Newborn Hearing Screening coordinator Angela Deken and Clinical Engineer Gary Stevenson with the former Neonatal Intensive Care Unit incubator

Recycling lifesaving incubators

by Ann van Engelen

Carers of Australia’s bushfire affected wildlife are receiving two neonatal incubators from the Canterbury region that were no longer in use as a way to support the nation’s injured and orphaned animals.

One incubator is from Christchurch Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the other is from St George’s Hospital. The idea came from Newborn Hearing Screening coordinator Angela Deken who was prompted to help after seeing heart-wrenching images of burnt koalas, kangaroos and other Australian wildlife.

“These incubators were no longer in use as they have been replaced with newer models,” says Angela.

“The bushfires have resulted in many ‘babies’ whose mothers have died, but they have survived in the pouches. It is pretty horrible stuff — I just wanted to do something.

“Incubators are a vital piece of equipment as they are substitutes for the mum’s pouch. I contacted Air New Zealand’s community organiser to help transport them, and an Australian vet treating injured bushfire animals. I am thrilled that after months of organising, this is finally becoming a reality.

“They will keep the larger animals sedated for longer periods of time for wound dressings and keeping the animals off their burnt feet so that healing can occur. Rangiora Community Maternity Unit has provided small volume bottles that animals can be fed with. It all helps save money for the carers who volunteer their time and often pay for a lot of the treatment-related costs. Knowing that these items will help in the rehabilitation and treatment of animals affected by the bushfires is amazing.”