RAF mission gives boost to charities

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The Independent Online
The Independent's Children of War Appeal had a boost yesterday with the news that the RAF will fly crucial medical equipment to seriously ill children in Bosnia.

The equipment - an infant and child's ventilator, two special infusion pumps and a monitoring VDU system - was donated respectively by Northwick Park Hospital, the IVAC medical firm, and the computer company Hewlett Packard. The project, which was organised by the Child Advocacy International charity, will bring equipment basic to every British intensive-care unit to the war-torn country.

The head of the charity, Professor David Southall, who runs an intensive- care unit for children at North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke, said: "There's no doubt children's lives will be saved by this. This equipment would be found by each bed in every intensive-care unit in the UK. In Bosnia, there's no real intensive-care unit for children. If anything starts to go wrong, children don't survive."

Professor Southall added that every week in Bosnia a baby is born with complicated heart disease, and the new equipment would enable their heartbeats to be monitored. According to the charity's figures, one in a thousand children in Bosnia has a serious illness which cannot be treated without this level of care. Equipment such as the VDU system - which monitors heart rate, oxygen, temperatures and blood rates - will be vital in saving lives.