In 2010, with the help of Scottish Borders Africa AIDS Group, the NHS Borders twinning group sent a full-sized ultrasound machine to St Francis Hospital (SFH) in Zambia. The machine was redundant to NHS needs but the radiology department, and others, still had to find a “write-off price” and fundraise for expensive air transport. 

After clearing the Zambian customs, the machine safely arrived at SFH and went into immediate use. This was further helped when Ros Thomson from the radiology department in the BGH visited St Francis’s to assist in ultrasound teaching. 

"a young woman arrived doubled up in pain. She looked very pregnant but she hotly denied this. What then could cause her hugely, distended painful tummy? I rushed her to the ultrasound room, jumping the long queue. A trainee technician quickly examined her belly, and saw no baby, only fluid swirling around within a gigantic ovarian cyst, the size of which I had never seen before. The senior radiographer confirmed a huge twisted ovarian cyst. Doubled in agonising pain, the patient was wheeled to the Gynae ward, pain relief given, and the cyst was removed next day in theatre. She is now back home alive and well. 

It was great to experience first-hand the benefits of our fund raising efforts. That patient will be deeply grateful to the efforts of Borders NHS staff for the rest of her life. Without the diagnostic equipment we sent, that young mother would have died in dreadful agony. As would many other patients living in the remote impoverished eastern province of Zambia." 

Dr Dorothy Logie, 2009

Dr Oliver Todd ('Oly') is a junior doctor from Cardiff who did his core medical training at the Borders General in 2013. Chris Faldon met him on one of his visits to St Francis and he mentioned how valuable it would be to get access to Consultant Radiology advice on radiographs he has struggled to analyse such as: 

  • Contrast studies - confirming presence or absence of possible applecore lesions or ulcers, or less commonly IBD, Barrett’s or oesophogeal strictures 
  • Skull Xrays - shift of pineal calcification suggestive of midline shift 
  • Spine Xrays looking for signs of spinal TB 
  • Chest Xrays - for help elucidating pleural disease from pulmonary, features more in keeping with fibrosis versus military TB versus fungal eg aspergillosis type infections.

Dr John Reid, Consultant Radiologist at BGH, was very helpful in assisting Oly - even if he is several thousand miles away and looking at pictures Oly has taken with his smart phone!