The Modra Family's Retcam Appeal
UPDATE: Christmas came early for Neonatal Unit - A two year fundraising initiative by the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Foundation has raised $165,253 for a state-of-the-art digital camera that will test the eyesight of premature infants in the FMC Neonatal Unit.

My name is Erica Modra. You may remember my husband Tony, a former Adelaide Crows AFL player.

This year, we are lucky enough to be spending Christmas with our darling new family member Luke who - thanks to the tireless work of the doctors and nurses at Flinders - is a happy and healthy little boy.

However Luke’s first days with us were not so easy. Luke was born prematurely at 28 and a half weeks gestation and weighed only 1.29 kilograms.

Tony and I spent 82 days in the Neonatal Ward at Flinders Medical Centre with Luke and had to see him endure countless invasive procedures and surgery.

One of the many risks that Luke had to face as a premature baby was Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). When a baby is born prematurely the development of their eyes can be disrupted. The blood vessels can stop growing or grow abnormally so the baby can often lose eyesight.

So to assess Luke's eyes and retinas for ROP, the Neonatal Ophthalmologist had to drop anaesthetic and special drops into his eye to keep it dilated, and use tiny crowbar-like claws (called a lid speculum) to hold his eye open. Then he went through it all again for the other eye.

I was made to look away whenever Luke was being assessed as it was very upsetting. Even more upsetting is that Luke and his little Neonatal mates had to have this procedure repeated regularly.

However, I have recently learned there is some leading edge technology that can help change all of this for doctors, babies and families…

The equipment is called a ‘Retcam’ and it enables doctors to do real-time monitoring of the babies' eye development so that on-the-spot decisions can be made about treatment at the earliest signs of ROP. 

This means there is a higher chance of normal vision for tiny babies with ROP, and it is far less invasive and distressing for all babies and families concerned.

Fortunately our Luke did not develop ROP. But there were so many other babies who were not so lucky.

I am writing to you to see if I can call upon you to make a donation to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation to help them purchase this vital piece of equipment.

At a cost of $177,000 the Retcam is a big target but one that can be achieved if we all give what we can afford to give. You can make a donation here.

The doctors and nurses at Flinders are remarkable - miracle workers in my mind - but to help them achieve even more miracles I know that equipment like this can make all the difference.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and thank you for your support of the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation and of the wonderful doctors, nurses and researchers who fight to give tiny babies like Luke a happy and healthy life.

I wish you and your family a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

Yours sincerely

Erica Modra