CHILDREN throughout Far North Queensland and beyond will benefit from the hard work of hundreds of cyclists.
The annual Mt Franklin Cardiac Challenge fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, has this year identified a paediatric cardiac ultrasound as one of the items to buy from the proceeds of this year’s ride.
Cairns Hospital paediatric cardiologist Dr Ben Reeves travels throughout the state diagnosing and treating babies and children with a wide range of heart issues.
“We do have a high prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in the Far North and the new ultrasound will produce significantly better images, is much lighter and more portable,” Dr Reeves said.
He currently works in Cairns, but also provides an outreach service to Thursday Island, Bamaga, Weipa, Napranum, Aurukun, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Yarrabah and Palm Island, performing about 1000 echo scans each year.
“The new machine will work really well as a portable machine, allowing high quality cardiac imaging clinics to be set up nearly anywhere that has electricity. The big advantage is that children can receive top quality care in their own communities, without the need to travel thousands of kilometres to major centres,” Dr Reeves said.
Gordonvale’s Landon Reid, 15, was born with truncus arteriosus – a rare genetic heart defect that means one large blood vessel leads out of the heart instead of two.
His family are long-term supporters of the Cardiac Challenge due to his ongoing heart issues. “I think it’s really great to get equipment like this for kids like me. I’ve already had surgery when I was a baby and I know there is more to come.”
The Cardiac Challenge, organised by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation, also will buy another ultrasound device, for the respiratory department, which works “hand in glove” with cardiology.
Cairns Hospital thoracic and sleep physician Dr Stephen Vincent said the new ultrasound device also will provide improved images and importantly, tie in to the Health Service’s electronic medical records, meaning changes in a patient’s condition can be easily monitored.
“This will ensure safe and rapid diagnosis of pleural and some respiratory diseases, especially in the management of pleural cancers and will also assist and determining whether there is complex and life-threatening infections or heart failure,” Dr Vincent said.
The Cardiac Challenge is an annual bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, in its 13th year and has raised more than $3.1 million for cardiac services in that time. It will be held September 20-23, 2019 and donations can be made HERE.

Photo: Dr Stephen Vincent, Landon Reid, Bronwyn Reid, Dr Benjamin Reeves.