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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Plaque unveiled at the Royal Victoria Hospital to Dr Terry Cross OBE for sight saving donation

L-R Louis Gilliland (aged 9), Ms. Eibhlin McLoone, Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist in Belfast Trust and Dr Terry Cross OBE.

L-R Louis Gilliland (aged 9), Ms. Eibhlin McLoone, Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist in Belfast Trust and Dr Terry Cross OBE.


The introduction of the most advanced retinal camera in September 2022 has led to sight-saving diagnosis for children in NI.


Over 2,000 children are referred to Paediatric Ophthalmology in Belfast each year. Thanks to the gift of specialist screening equipment from Dr Terry Cross OBE, many children, including premature babies, can receive a prompt diagnosis of potentially sight-threatening eye disease.

 


Explaining the impact of the equipment, Ms. Eibhlin McLoone, Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist in Belfast Trust, said:

 

“The Optos Silverstone is the most powerful and advanced tool available to image the retina. It is the first machine of its kind available in Northern Ireland, thanks to Dr Terry Cross OBE’s generous donation.


"The machine has benefitted premature babies who require careful monitoring in the first months of life, as well as children at risk of eye tumours and management of children with complex needs, autism or ADHD.



Louis Gilliland (aged 9).

Louis Gilliland (aged 9).


“The imaging facilitated by the machine has led to prompt diagnosis for paediatric patients of potentially sight-threatening eye disease without having to resort to examination of these patients under anaesthesia. It has also enabled the Belfast Paediatric Eye team to seek expert advice from Great Ormond Street Hospital.


"To date, around 20 children have benefitted from this telemedicine approach; in the past these children and their families would have needed to travel for an opinion from our colleagues in England.”

 

The benefits for treating children with eye conditions means so much to families in Northern Ireland.



(L-R) Emma Pollock and son Louis Gilliland (aged 9), Barbara Carson and grandson Leo Gilliland (aged 5) are pictured with Dr Terry Cross OBE (right).

(L-R) Emma Pollock and son Louis Gilliland (aged 9), Barbara Carson and grandson Leo Gilliland (aged 5) are pictured with Dr Terry Cross OBE (right).


Emma Pollock’s sons both have a condition, which affects their vision. Having access to the scanner as part of their care at the Children’s Eye Unit has been crucial in helping protect their sight. Emma said:

 

“We knew from a very young age that Louis and Leo would need to be monitored closely throughout their lives. We have been attending the Children’s Eye Unit on an ongoing basis and have received the best care from the fantastic, dedicated team.


"In January, Louis was offered a detailed exam of the back of the eyes, which revealed retinal problems. This could have otherwise been missed, as the technology was not previously available here in Northern Ireland. Within a few weeks, Louis was offered a preventative operation to ensure that his sight will be protected.



"Leo has also now availed of an assessment using this wonderful new machine and will receive surgery.

 

“Without this machine, we would not have known what is going on behind the eye, nor would we know what could be done to help protect their vision. It is reassuring to know we have the best equipment available here, we will be forever grateful to have been able to have access to it. My brother lost his sight aged 21 due to similar problems, so this is especially emotional for me personally. I wonder if this type of technology was available back then would he be able to see now.”


L-R Fr Gary Donegan, Rev Dr Stanley Gamble, Kevin Whelan (ForSight NI) and Dr Terry Cross OBE.

L-R Fr Gary Donegan, Rev Dr Stanley Gamble, Kevin Whelan (ForSight NI) and Dr Terry Cross OBE.


Chris White, CEO at ForSight, said:


“As a relatively new charity, we are delighted to be involved in this donation as our mission is to empower and support people living with sight loss through the funds raised in our chain of charity shops. Having access to pioneering equipment is central to this as it aids early diagnosis and informs treatment plans.”

 

Commenting on the substantial donation Dr Terry Cross OBE, Chairman of Biopax Ltd. and Patron of the David Cross Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, said:


“I feel privileged to be in a position to support the wider community and I am a firm advocate of early intervention and prevention when it comes to health matters. I believe such an approach delivers better outcomes right across the spectrum, whether it relates to eye checks or cancer checks.  

 


“It is vital that we all remain active in our responsibilities and do what we can.  Our health service has been under immense pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and resources are stretched. If we can do something to support health workers to deliver the best service possible, then we should try to do it.


As a result of this investment, over 2000 children referred annually to Paediatric Ophthalmology at the RVH Belfast can avail of the most advanced sight saving screening available, following the introduction of a new retinal camera in its Children’s Eye Unit.”


L-R Dr Terry Cross OBE and Ms. Eibhlin McLoone, Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist in Belfast Trust.

L-R Dr Terry Cross OBE and Ms. Eibhlin McLoone, Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist in Belfast Trust.


Dr Terry Cross OBE is a well-known businessman in Northern Ireland who has supported local charities throughout his life. He has been President of the Red Cross NI since 2008 and has recently established his own charitable trust – The David Cross Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, named in memory of his son, David, who tragically died at the age of 33 from malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer.

 

Terry continues to generously support research programmes at Ulster University around melanoma, as well as many early detection projects, highlighting the dangers of excessive sun exposure and other risk factors. He has also made a remarkable difference in bringing about social change in local communities.

 


In the past two years, Terry has awarded over 20 grants to local charities and community groups through his trust. Young people and cross-community projects are a particular passion of Terry’s, especially supporting and improving the employment prospects of young people.


He is guided by his Trustees: Rev Dr Stanley Gamble, Rev Bill Shaw and Fr Gary Donegan.

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