Liz's Magic Wand
Helping Children With Blood Cancer in Malawi
We believe people around the world should have some chance to benefit from the latest technological advances to fight cancer, especially those bright kids whose smiles simply melt our hearts.
Whole slide imaging, a small device that looks like a magic wand, (figure on the right) was a perfect solution so we decided to upgrade their imaging system with a manual whole slide scanning system from a commercial partner. It cost so much less compares to the automated machines but still not affordable for a small lab in Malawi. So we launched a fundraiser to get £4850 to buy the whole system.
The time was really tight as the British oncology team was planning to visit Malawi in March every once a year. So we bought the system before reaching the goal to make sure they fly with it.
One day at work we met a hematological pathologist, Peter, and heard he’s been providing remote consultation to Prof Elizabeth Molyneux, a pediatric oncology specialist in Malawi by exchanging microscopic images through the internet from 7,400 miles away. However, half of the cases sent back were non-diagnostic: the image quality was really bad and the field of views were tiny.
With help from the Royal College of Pathologists and local media, ChronicleLive, to gain support from the general public. To date, £807 has been raised from 26 donors through GoFundMe and £4,800 was received from a Chinese entrepreneur (Jerry Duan).
The 'magic wand' has been handed over to Liz in Malawi and it has the potential to improve remote access to pathology expertise as a point-of-care device, hence improving the standard of care for children with cancer in Malawi. However, as the oncology team are extremely busy therefore we are currently looking for a volunteer who would like to travel to Malawi to help setting up the system.
This system could be rapidly and widely distributed at relatively low cost across many institutions where there is a twinning arrangement between less well-resourced and well-resourced centres, significantly enhancing the impact of the system. Perhaps most importantly, the potential scalability of the system – the availability of digital whole slides collected from Malawi – will provide the AI model with further high-quality input data, and the diagnostic accuracy and ability to accommodate disease variation will improve iteratively with wider use. Further strengthening partnerships with low- and middle-income countries LMICs will accelerate the development of new clinical diagnostics, research collaborations, training and outputs shared between the UK, Africa and other LMICs.