New equipment is trialled by 12-year-old Max at Nottingham Children’s Hospital

l-r Max Wright and Andrew Prayle
l-r Max Wright and Andrew Prayle

Testing and treatment of children with severe and chronic respiratory problems is being made easier at Nottingham Children’s Hospital this winter thanks to a new system being described as an “important clinical workhorse” by respiratory teams at the hospital.

The Prolab, no bigger than a school rucksack, is proving to be a key support in testing and measuring changes in paediatric respiratory problems, especially important in winter when vulnerable children can encounter more breathing problems due to colds and infections.

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No one knows this better than twelve year old Max Wright from Nottingham who has had asthma since he was a baby and was one of the first patients at Nottingham Hospital to trial the Prolab, funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity as part of their Big Appeal for the Children’s Hospital.

Max said: “Over the years I’ve used loads of different equipment. I like using this because it’s small and easy and it can show you things like a cake with candles to blow out or other fun things on the screen which make me try hard when I blow into it,” said Max. “It helps take my mind off how dry my throat gets doing the tests!”

l-r Max Wright - Fiona Wright - Andrew Prayle - Caroline Youle
l-r Max Wright – Fiona Wright – Andrew Prayle – Caroline Youle

Under the supervision of Paediatric Respiratory Registrar Dr Andrew Prayle, Max has been one of the very first young patients to try the small and portable Prolab.  His mum Fiona Wright attends the respiratory clinics with him.

Fiona said: “Max has been coming for tests since he was a baby. He comes to the QMC fortnightly for tests to monitor his lung function and for injections to manage his asthma. Because of his years of experience of being tested on a wide range respiratory monitoring equipment Max has become quite an expert on them and so is well placed to have a view on the new Prolab!

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“As a parent what I particularly like is the fact that this can quickly show me comparison test graphs so that it’s easy for me to see how Max is doing compared to last time. It’s really important as a parent that it’s easy for me to see how he’s doing.”

Dr Prayle and recently retired Professor in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at Nottingham Hospitals, Harish Vyas, have been the driving force behind the introduction of the Prolab. Dr Prayle explained more about how popular it is proving with patients and parents:

“It is such a flexible and adaptable piece of kit and it makes a huge difference that its compact size and design make it look less clinical and scary to children. Even though it’s only been in operation for a few months it’s clear that the Prolab is becoming a very important clinical workhorse for our team.

“Also, from a clinical point of view the fact that we can instantly call up comparative graphs of a patient’s previous breathing tests is really useful as we don’t have to wait to print anything off.  All you have to do is press the ‘history’ button and it’s all there on screen. It’s also very simple to do many advanced lung function tests.

“It is not just flexible in the information it gives you but its small size and portability means I can now shuttle it between clinics and hospitals in a way I could not do with standard test equipment.  Our team can even visit home-based patients to monitor and support them as the Prolab packs up into a picnic sized bag which is easy to take into people’s homes.

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Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, Barbara Cathcart, whose team is leading the Big Appeal fundraising campaign said: “It is hugely important to families for their children to be treated as quickly and effectively as possible when they come to hospital.  It is also crucial that children feel relaxed and happy while undergoing tests. The Prolab has been highly effective and really unobtrusive. We are delighted to have been able to fund this through our Big Appeal for Nottingham Children’s Hospital.”

Every year the Children’s Respiratory Unit at Nottingham Children’s Hospital sees more than 800 children suffering from a range of breathing issues that require fast diagnosis and accurate monitoring, from premature babies to children with asthma or Cystic Fibrosis.

Max Wright, who goes to Alderman White School in Bramcote, has been so thankful for the help he’s received at Nottingham Children’s Hospital that he asked for donations instead of presents for his twelfth birthday with money going to the hospital’s Big Appeal. The Big Appeal aims to raise £4million to fund a range of areas including new equipment like the Prolab to help diagnose and treat sick children.

Fundraisers raised £30,000 for the Prolab, just one of the items being funded as part of the Big Appeal’s focus on providing enhanced facilities and diagnostic equipment at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

The Big Appeal’s overall target is to raise £4 million over the next four years.  Public who want to support The Big Appeal can donate by texting ‘NUHC13’ and either £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 to 70070, or visit the Nottingham Hospital Charity’s website, or call the Charity’s team on 0115 962 7905.