PET Scanner for Maharagama:
A great expectation fulfilled
This week, the nation celebrated collecting Rs. 200 million for the
much needed PET (positron emission tomography) scanner for the Apeksha
(Hope, Expectation) Cancer Hospital in Maharagama. All Sri Lankans
supported this cause, by donating generously, by giving it more
publicity, by running various campaigns and the money poured in, even
after the fund reached the required amount in record time.
S. M. Mohamed, the founder of Khadija Foundation who initiated the
project said that as a Sri Lankan he is proud of the achievement which
reflects the Lankan people's commitment to unity and reconciliation.
Mohamed was motivated to collect funds to buy the PET Scanner for the
Cancer hospital when his own son was diagnosed with cancer nearly two
and half years ago. After undergoing treatment for a year abroad and
another year at a private hospital in Sri Lanka, Mohamed admitted his
son to the Maharagama Cancer hospital. Then he realized that the
hospital lacked major diagnosis equipment. Currently, the hospital uses
a CT scanner which provides only 17% accuracy when unaided by other
scans. Hence, without the PET scanner, the doctors are compelled to
resort to guess work. The cost of a PET scan from a private hospital is
around Rs. 150,000/- and a patient diagnosed with cancer needs multiple,
periodical PET scans for correct diagnosis.
"I wanted my son to be here today, but I couldn't bring him," Mohamed
said emotionally at the ceremony held organized by the Khadija
Foundation and the Maharagama Apeksha Hospital to celebrate reaching the
Nine months ago, Mohamed officially received permission from the
government to proceed with his plan to collect funds for a PET Scanner.
After the preliminary preparations, the public campaign began on March
4, collecting around 6 to 7 million during the first month, but
gradually making progress - four million rupees in April, and during the
last two weeks, Rs. 90 million.
Thanking the media, electronic and print, for their support, Mohamed
also thanked over 70,000 Sri Lankans who made donations during the last
three months. According to the bank statements he so fondly referred to,
all 635 Bank of Ceylon branches across Sri Lanka were used to deposit
money. "Some have deposited Rs. 50 and 100.
Thousands of people did that according to the bank statements I
received daily. I always think about them, how they must have left home,
gone to the bank in a bus, deposited the money and returned home. It
gives me immense pride when I think about them," Mohamed said that
statement daily indicated that there were donations of Rs. 50, 100, 500,
1000, 10,000 and 100,000.
Joining the celebration were representatives of Sunil Traders, headed
by Sunil Muthumala, who made a donation of Rs. 35 million.
Dr. M. Y. K. Wilfred, the Director of the Apeksha Hospital said that
the next step is to follow government procedure and call for tenders to
buy the scanner. He said that the hospital management is very much aware
of the fact that the money is public donations for a single purpose and
the money will be used solely for this purpose. Hence, maintaining
transparency when following procedures is of utmost importance.
"It will take another five months at least, to call for tenders and
choose a suitable company, local or foreign, and adjust the scanner to
suit the requirements of the Cancer hospital," he explained, adding that
the guarantee period for the machine, and the maintenance and training
for the staff in using the machine are other aspects that need to be
The total amount collected as of middle of this week stood at Rs. 233
million, and Mohamed and the Khadija Foundation are determined to use
the excess to fulfill other needs of the Cancer hospital which is in
need of an MRI Scanner, a genetic lab - Mohamed carries a list. But
these need to be postponed until the PET scanner deal is finalized. With
the currency exchange rates changing every day, the exact amount needed
for the scanner may vary marginally.