Bristol Children's Hospital is at the cutting edge of Paediatric
Neurosciences thanks to groundbreaking surgical technology, funded
by The Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital charity.
The hospital is one of only two in the UK and only a handful in
Europe to have a pioneering 3T MRI scanner and intraoperative
scanning suite for paediatric neurosurgery patients, placing it
among the very best in the world for patients requiring surgery on
the head, brain and spine.
It is also the first hospital in the south of England to provide
such advanced treatment for sick babies and children. The only
other UK hospital with these capabilities is Alder Hey in
The scanner's tremendous power and precise image-guidance
technology allows surgeons to operate on complex tumours in the
very deepest parts of the brain. Ahead of surgery, the scanner can
analyse the awake brain to identify the location of vital functions
such as speech and movement, helping surgeons to avoid them during
Furthermore, surgeons can conduct further scans during a
procedure to track their progress. This means patients only need
undergo one anaesthetic, for one procedure, reducing the medical
risk and emotional distress for the child.
The Grand Appeal funded the scanner through donations to its
'Gromit Unleashed' arts trail, as well as through major donations
to the charity from Children With Cancer and Garfield Weston
'Gromit Unleashed' saw eighty statues of Aardman Animations'
canine sidekick Gromit installed across Bristol in 2013. The
auction of the sculptures raised a cracking two million three
hundred thousand pounds for the Grand Appeal.
The very first patient to be treated using the scanner was Jack
Mooney, from Kingsteignton in Devon, who was just eight years old
when he underwent surgery at Bristol Children's Hospital. Jack had
suffered from two types of epilepsy causing daily seizures since
the age of five, leading specialists diagnosed a large, low grade
tumour known as a Dysembryonic Neuroepithelial Tumour (DNET) deep
in his brain.
Despite Jack taking three types of epilepsy medications at the
maximum dose, his seizures remained uncontrolled, leaving surgery
the only option. The operation and the tumour's location
threatened Jack's speech, movement and sense of smell.
Jack went into surgery in December 2014 and the tumour was
completely removed in one 13 and a half hour procedure. Had it not
been for the scanner, Jack would have had to undergo further
operations to fully remove the tumour, possible causing
irreversible damage to areas of his brain.
He was discharged from hospital four days later, and is now a
happy, healthy nine-year-old.
Mike Carter, consultant neurosurgeon at Bristol Children's
Hospital, said, "This groundbreaking new piece of equipment gives
us the capability to conduct complex procedures that two years ago
would have been inconceivable. We would never have been able to
bring this groundbreaking technology to the hospital without the
support of the Grand Appeal.
"We can now carry out scans in the operating theatre, in real
time, providing precise information during the operation itself.
This enables the complete removal of tumours and reduces the need
for additional surgeries, which can be very stressful for the child
and their family. Without the availability of the scanner, it is
likely that Jack would have had to have as many as three more
operations; instead, he was able to go home just days later.
"We are immensely proud to be the only hospital in the South of
England to have such powerful, dedicated paediatric
Jack's mother, Rachael Mooney, said, "The seizures were very
frightening for Jack and disrupted his social life and education
for many years, so to see him able to live a full and happy
childhood is just incredible. While he still needs regular
check-ups, Jack is on much less medication than before. He is less
tired and aggressive, and is back at school full time.
"The surgery has absolutely transformed Jack's life, and we are
all very thankful to everyone who supported the Grand Appeal and
'Gromit Unleashed'. Without their kind donations our lives would
still be on hold, but now we can move forward."
Nicola Masters, director of the Grand Appeal, said, "As Jack's
case shows, this is a truly revolutionary piece of equipment that
is already changing the lives of patients and their families. We
are very proud that our 'Gromit Unleashed' trail played a part in
making that happen and I'd like to thank everyone who donated to
the Grand Appeal and 'Gromit Unleashed'. It is thanks to your
support that we are able to help the hospital invest in life-saving
technology, and provide children and babies from an ever-expanding
area with such world-class treatment."
The Grand Appeal is bringing a new sculpture trail to Bristol
this July: 'Shaun in the City'. Seventy uniquely-designed
sculptures of Shaun the Sheep will be installed all over the city
from 6 July to 31 August, before being auctioned to raise funds for
the Grand Appeal in the autumn.
Gromit's Grand Appeal
The Grand Appeal has raised over £31 million to support sick
babies and children at Bristol Children's Hospital and the Special
Care Baby Unit at St Michael's Hospital providing life-saving
equipment, patient activities, new services and family
accommodation. The Appeal runs Cots for Tots House - a 12 bedded
family accommodation unit for the parents of critically ill babies
treated in the Special Care Baby Unit.
Bristol Children's Hospital is one of the UK's leading
children's hospitals treating patients from across the South West,
South Wales and beyond with life-threatening illnesses and serves
as the pediatric intensive care centre for the whole South West
region. The hospital is an international, national and regional
specialist centre of excellence for a range of services including
neurosurgery, burns, cardiac, leukaemia and bone marrow
Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal will benefit from funds
raised from the flock of 70 Shaun in the City sculptures placed in
Bristol during summer 2015. For more information, visit