Stawell’s gift that keeps on giving

Patients at a Tongan clinic are still benefiting today from a donation made by the Stawell hospital a decade ago.

Former Ballarat registrar Dr Tom Toohey visited the clinic on the small Pacific island recently and discovered that doctors there were still making regular use of a specialist theatre microscope that had been donated by the Stawell team in 2014.

Grampians Health perioperative services associate nurse unit manager at Stawell campus, Rachel Nicholls said Stawell Regional Health purchased the Moller-Weller FS 3000 microscope in 1993.

“Back then it was the ‘you beaut’ top of the range and it performed many years of service as a one-stop microscope for both ophthalmic and ENT surgery,” Ms Nichols said.

“It was very reliable and had seen countless eyes and ears during that time but in 2014, to keep up with demand, changing technology and surgical techniques, it was determined the microscope required upgrading to two specialised microscopes. One for ophthalmology and one for ENT.

“We had the option to trade it in on the purchase of the new models but rather than see it go to scrap metal it was decided that we would donate it to a worthy recipient,” she said.

Through the help of ophthalmologist Dr Michael Toohey and St.John of God Hospital’s ‘Twinning’ program, the microscope was donated and shipped to Tonga and 10 years later, it remains in constant use.

Dr Michael Toohey is Dr Tom Toohey’s father. As a child, Tom spent time in Tonga with his family.

Ms Nichols said that without the donation of the microscope, the clinic would not be able to perform the eye surgery that it currently does for its local population.

“The funding for healthcare in Tonga is nowhere near sufficient as you can imagine and from what I understand the amazing staff make miracles with less than the basics,” she said.

“They were very grateful to receive such a donation.”

If anyone feels they have anything they would like to donate to a place in need like Tonga they could contact their local Rotary Club.