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Fundraising reaches target

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012
01-stl-rdpetroleum
OTAGO DAILY TIMES
Campaign manager Irene Mosley and RD Petroleum managing director Don Harvey celebrate the campaign passing the $3 million goal before Christmas.

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A campaign to secure and expand a life-saving hub that has saved victims of head injury and stroke in the South has passed its goal of $3 million, just 10 months after its launch in January.

The fundraising goal for the Chair in Neurosurgery campaign was met with a surge of $100,000 from RD petroleum, a donation officially announced yesterday morning.

The position of chair has been filled by Dr Dirk de Ridder of Antwerp University in Belgium. The placement of Dr de Ridder was announced earlier in the year - he will join two other neurosurgeons at the Dunedin hub and will oversee the unit, starting in February.

Fundraising around the region this year has included donations from Otago Helicopters, Mercy Hospital and the Chemist Guild but the fund has also been boosted by community projects such as the sale of used car batteries in Owaka, a winter feed competition in Tokanui, and a quilt fundraiser in Middlemarch.

Appeal envelopes that went out in February brought in more than $11,000 a day during that month, while people of all ages from Southland and Otago took part in the Ultimate Hikes "Brain Week Walk" on the Milford Track, which raised $112,000.

Individual donations averaged $380, though one single donation was $75,000.

Project manager Irene Mosley said the support from businesses and individuals in the south had been amazing.

"Every time we receive a donation we think this one will be the last, and where else will the support come from. But the public and businesses continue to surprise us."

A gathering to celebrate the campaign's finish has been planned for February, coinciding with the arrival of the third neurosurgeon, and incoming Chair, Dr Dirk de Ridder, of Antwerp University in Belgium.

Fundraising chairman Dr Brian McMahon said the campaign results were "marvellous."

"Achieving our initial goal early gives us the opportunity to secure further funds between now and February. This will ensure the fund is future-proofed against potential drops in interest rates and inflation."

For Invercargill mum Melissa Kane, the announcement was amazing. It has been nearly two years since her daughter, Emily, then 5 months, was rushed to Dunedin after a fall at home caused bleeding in her brain.

A craniotomy, performed by neurosurgeon Dr Ahmad Taha, saved Emily's life, and since then Mrs Kane has been outspoken in her support for keeping and supporting the neurosurgery unit.

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"Just from doing the street appeal you realise how many people have used the neurosurgery unit."

Mrs Mosley said fundraising would continue until February.

In 2010, Southland and Otago petitioned the Government to keep the neurosurgery unit from being moved to Christchurch.

After succeeding, campaigners then worked to keep and expand the hub to bring skills, training and research to Dunedin and provide better access for patients in the south.

- The Southland Times

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