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Appeal targets £1.6m 'robot surgeon'

Worcester Editorial 21st Mar, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

A MAJOR fund-raising campaign has been launched to secure a surgical robot which could revolutionise the way prostate cancer patients are treated.

The Rory the Robot campaign aims to raise £1.6million to buy the machine which will be based at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch which is the county’s centre of excellence for urology.

Prostate cancer claims the life of one man every hour and by 2030 will be the most common cancer.

In Worcestershire alone there are 2,500 men surviving prostate cancer at any one time, with about 450 to 550 new prostate cancer cases diagnosed every year.

The technology will allow surgeons to remove tumours with more precision through five cuts around the prostate gland rather than open surgery.

It means less blood loss, less pain after surgery, a lower risk of complications and recovery times will fall from up to 12 weeks to between three to four weeks.

It was first developed by the US military to allow surgeons based in America to operate remotely on soldiers injured on the battlefield over the internet, but has since been developed for use in general hospitals. It can also be used for head and neck cancer, colorectal and heart surgery.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Alex, is spearheading the campaign backed by the Standard and its sister titles, as well as the Save the Alex campaign.

Adel Makar, urology consultant and lead cancer clinician for the Trust, said prostate cancer survival rates were already among the best in Europe but with other hospitals in Birmingham or Gloucestershire either having already bought a machine or fund-raising for one, there was a danger the county could get left behind.

“This surgery is already becoming available elsewhere in the country and we want to make it available in Redditch for all our Worcestershire patients. If everyone in Worcestershire donated just £5 each we would be able to buy the robot straight away. Please support us and help us save lives.”

Residents and businesses are being urged to help raise the funds by donating or holding events such as a bake sale, a sponsored run, cycle or swim or even getting paid to stay silent for the day.

Standard editor Ian Dipple said: “Some people may feel this should come from general taxation but with the funding squeeze on the public sector set to continue for some years to come, if we don’t do this for ourselves we will never get one and it will be us that suffer.”

Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, added: “This is a real boost for our hospital and patients across the county. While £1.6million may seem a lot, together we can deliver life-changing results for prostate cancer patients.”

YOU CAN donate to the Rory the Robot Campaign online at www.justgiving.com/rorytherobot or fill in the form in next Wednesday’s (March 26) Observer.

Sponsorship forms are also available from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s communications team by emailing communications@worcsacute.nhs.uk or call 01905 760543. Also let us know what you are doing by emailing editor@redditchstandard.co.uk or call 01527 588697.

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