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Corporate Social Responsibility

Mercy Ships

Improving the quality of life for patients in West Africa

The charity, Mercy Ships, has benefitted from the donation of the Nikon Coolscope, making an enormous impact and enabling the onboard surgical teams to make swift diagnoses and surgical decisions, according to Judy Polkinhorn, executive director Mercy Ships UK. “This has improved the quality of life for hundreds of individuals who have been ostracised from their communities with the stigma of socially unacceptable diseases.”

Pathologist gives remote consultations – sometimes whilst his patients are still on the operating table on a Mercy Ship off the coast of Africa.

No matter where the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship is docked, volunteer staff using its Nikon Coolscope, can scan biopsy samples and make the images available over the Internet to a UK based consultant. Such is the sophistication of the Coolscope that Consultant Pathologist, Dr Ed Sheffield, can not only view the live image, but also control the microscope remotely as if he were actually on the Mercy Ship Anastasis. Verbal communication of the diagnosis between the ships medical team and the remote consultant is made using telecommunications.

"Nikon's Coolscope has helped aid Mercy Ships in its endeavour to bring world-class free-of-charge medical assistance, relief aid, training and education to developing nations where it would otherwise be unavailable or unaffordable"

"The Coolscope is incredible," explained Dr. Gary Parker, Chief Medical Officer and principal maxillo-facial surgeon on the Anastasis. "Today I was operating on a nine year-old girl with a large jaw tumour. In the middle of the operation, I encountered some suspicious tissue, and was able to send a cell smear to Dr. Sheffield in Bristol to get a preliminary diagnosis. This helped me to decide whether or not to resect her entire left mandible while she was still on the operating table. What a great tool. It will be a great help to us as we try to help some of the poor of West Africa."

 

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The Coolscope was purchased for the flagship by Professor Lord Ian McColl, Vice Chairman of the global charity, Mercy Ships, and Professor of Surgery at Guy's Hospital in London, who commented, "Nikon's Coolscope aids Mercy Ships in its endeavour to bring world-class free-of-charge medical assistance, relief aid, training and education to developing nations where it would otherwise be unavailable or unaffordable. For the first time expert consultations can be made remotely, providing access to the expertise of a full-time pathologist for immediate and accurate diagnosis, something that previously would have taken weeks."

The easy-to-use technology means that voluntary staff on board the Mercy Ship can capture excellent images after minimal training. All that is required, besides the all-in-one eyepiece-less microscope, is a monitor and mouse. Once the slide is loaded there is no need for optical alignment, as the Coolscope automatically adjusts the illumination intensity, contrast and focus. With the image displayed on the monitor, remote users need only to move its mouse to navigate through the specimen, making geography and distance irrelevant. Combining a microscope with digital camera and network functions in a compact tower unit, the Coolscope transcends the existing concept of a microscope.

Staffed by an entirely voluntary workforce, the Mercy Ship vessels rely upon donations for every single piece of equipment onboard, from the curtains and fixtures right through to the most complex and costly surgical and diagnostic equipment. Having already donated a number of cameras to Mercy Ship's PR team and a pair of binoculars to the ship's captain, Nikon UK also adopted Mercy Ships as a company charity, helping equip the Mercy Ship Africa Mercy with Nikon Coolscope technology.


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