The Perse School

Prep fundraising saves hearing of children with cancer

27 Oct 2014

Children, staff and parents at the Perse Prep have raised £10,000 to buy a specialist piece of equipment that could save the hearing of hundreds of children being treated for cancer at Addenbrooke’s. Last week they visited the hospital to see the new kit in action and meet some of the children it is helping.

Cancer affects around 1 in every 500 children under 15. Survival rates have doubled since the 1960’s and on average 80% of children can now be cured. But the chemotherapy treatment they receive can sometimes damage the tiny hair cells in the ear which can cause hearing loss, especially if it’s picked up too late. Hearing tests are often very difficult to perform on children; they can be inaccurate and sometimes require a hospital visit. The Octoacoustic emissions kit (OAE kit) is an accurate, reliable, simple, bedside tool that doesn’t cause children any stress. It tests hair cell function in the ear and picks up hearing problems very quickly, increasing the likelihood that they can be treated. Addenbrooke’s will be one of very few hospitals in the UK which will be using the kit on a day to day basis.

Dr David Baguely, Head of Audiology at Cambridge University Hospitals said: “The generous gift of this equipment will allow a significant advance in the assessment of hearing in these young patients undergoing chemotherapy. The effective and consistent preservation of hearing is our ultimate goal, and this represents a great leap forward.”

James Piper, Head of the Perse Prep School said “We are delighted to be able to help protect the hearing of young cancer patients by paying for this equipment. The gift was made possible by the enthusiastic fundraising efforts of our pupils, parents’ association and staff. In total Perse Prep pupils, the Perse Prep Parents and staff raised more than £35,000 in 2014/15 for charities that help young people suffering from cancer.”

Property consultants Savills Cambridge office supported the cause by providing £2000 towards sponsorship of a fundraising ball at the Prep and, in addition, presented an unexpected extra £1000 from the sale of a house on behalf of a parent. Presenting the extra money Ed Meyer, head of residential sales for Savills in Cambridge said: “We are thrilled to have joined forces with the Perse to help raise money for CUH. This is such an important tool for the hospital and I’m very pleased we could help with the fundraising”.

Research and development into the use of the kit will provide insights into mechanisms and timing of hearing loss as well as new chemotherapy programmes that protect hearing in children.

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