Edinburgh optometrist's daughter's premature birth sparks £73,000 Specsavers fundraiser for Simpson Neonatal Unit
When Edinburgh optometrist Michael O’Kane’s daughter Sophie was born at 24 weeks weighing just 1lb 15oz, colleagues across Scotland rallied to help make a difference to her young life.
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Aware of premature babies’ needs for regular eye checks due to rapid changes in organ development, staff at Specsavers stores across the country launched an ambitious fundraiser to buy a cutting-edge piece of equipment which would provide a much quicker and safer way of examining the tiny babies’ eyes.
The fundraiser saw them donate £2 from various procedures including optical coherence tomography scans and earwax removals. A raffle was also held in support of the cause.
The stores have now handed over £73,000 to Simpsons Special Care babies to help buy a cutting-edge piece of equipment called a PanoCam Pro for the Simpson Neonatal Unit in the Capital.
Michael, a partner at the Morningside and Cameron Toll stores, whose daughter Sophie is now thriving at the age of seven, said: “The support from colleagues across Scotland, with help from our customers, has been overwhelming and we are extremely proud to have raised this impressive sum.
“It will make a huge difference to the neonatal unit, which helps premature and sick babies across the country. When my daughter was born, I learned first-hand how incredibly supportive everyone at the unit is and will be forever indebted to them.”
The fundraiser was part of a dual announcement which saw Bliss Scotland designated as the opticians’ Charity of the Year, to generate additional funds to support Scotland’s premature babies and their families.
The launch of the scheme, which was held in autumn last year, also saw Bliss ambassador Lady Sarra Hoy, lawyer and wife of Edinburgh cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy, whose son Callum was born at 29 weeks in 2014.
Reflecting on the success of the PanoCam fundraiser initiative, she said: “I want to thank Specsavers and all of their customers who have made this possible. What a fantastic achievement.
“It’s so rewarding for everyone involved to be able to see the reality of their donation, which will have a direct impact and positive outcome on babies and their families.”
MED Surgical, who supply the Visunex PanoCam Pro, usually charge £113,000 but generously contributed £40,000 to make the fundraising target of £73,000 more attainable.