Monday 23 November 2015

Exciting research and BIG money

      What a great meeting we had this month. There were over fifty people there, visitors from Breathe Easy Newport, Swansea, Carmarthen, and Haverfordwest. Penny Woods and Joseph Carter from British Lung Foundation, Claire Hurlin and others all came to hear about the work being done by Haemair, a company based at Swansea University.

      Before the meeting started, Penny talked briefly about the enlightened approach to health care which the Welsh government has. We are innovative in our approach here, both in research, development and in data collecting, so we have an excellent information base on which to base our health care and even rethink approaches to make improvements. Who said that Offas Dyke is the dividing wall of death between England and Wales ? I think we all know who said it ! Well, I feel sorry for all of you to the east of our wall, in England. Here in Wales, things are not perfect, but we have a much more informed and less restricted approach to health care, which can be readily tailor made to suit the area, rural or urban.

      We were delighted to be able to present Penny with a cheque for £4,250, raised at this year's abseil events, and other fund raising days. This will be used in research projects supported by BLF.

     Then came the main event. Bill Johns, Phil Hales and Ron Knight gave us a presentation, explaining the thrilling work they are doing at Haemair. They are working on an artificial lung, to be used in hospitals to get people back on their feet and ambulatory once more. Also it will be used to help patients waiting for a lung transplant, and the ultimate aim is to miniaturise it even further so it can be implanted - the equivalent of a pacemaker for the lungs.
     We first met Bill, Phil and Ron in 2009. They had started their company in 2005. In those first years they had established that the device works and they had developed the fine tubing necessary to replicate the surface area of the lungs, This is no thicker than a human hair. Now, six years later they are planning to go into production in 2017. Of course there are many hurdles to jump and we wish them every success and all the help and recognition they need. Some of their team, the younger generation, from Swansea University came along too. 

     Patients who are awaiting surgery or lung transplant, or have suffered respiratory failure due to bird flu, swine flu etc, are currently treated with ECMO. As you can see this is a bulky machine on a trolley, needing four members of staff to monitor and operate. Because the blood leaves the body it needs a heat exchanger to stop it losing heat as it travels through the device.


 The Haemair device is much smaller and will sit on the chest (I have tried one, not yet quite reduced to it's eventuual size) and it will be comfortable to wear. Patients who have been confined to bed will be able to walk around, improve muscle tone, increase fitness, improve their sense of wellbeing, and so prepare themselves for surgery, or give their lungs time to recover from nasty infections. 

This is the device at it's present stage of development. We have seen it working and it is so exciting to see into the future.

 The website can tell you more accurately than I can about their work. All I can say is that fifty members of South Wales Breathe Easy groups left the meeting feeling excited and full of hope.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hello - My name is Mike. Having looked on the BLF website and some other online sources, I would very much like to speak to Margaret Barnard about consulting on patient representation. My phone number and email address: 07908361513 / I hope to hear from you. Merry Christmas.