Thank you. You made a huge difference for hundreds of sick patients.
That was the message from hospital chiefs to Hartlepool Mail readers.
They spoke up after a vital piece of life-saving equipment - fundraised and paid for by you - finally came to the end of its working life after 10 years in use.
In that time, 400 people have been treated on the BiPap ventilator.
It was back in September 2008 that the Mail first launched the £15,000 Lifeline Appeal, with the backing of the Hargreaves family, including the-then Hartlepool deputy mayor Pam Hargreaves, after Pam’s mum, Dorothy, 61, died of a brain haemorrhage.
At the time, the Hargreaves family wanted to say thank you for the kindness the nurses at Hartlepool had shown to Dorothy.
I remember the Hartlepool Mail’s campaign very well – it’s thanks to the generous donations of readers that we were able to help so many patientsTom Bingham
The Lifeline Appeal reached its £15,000 target within three months thanks to readers who ran, sang, cycled, and performed stage shows.
The machine was important because it meant patients didn’t need to have invasive treatment any more when they needed ventilation. The BiPAP ventilator was so sophisticated, patients could be treated with on-invasive methods.
In layman’s terms, the BiPap machine meant patients could have a breathing mask placed tightly on their face and it took away the need for tubes.
But after 10 years of use, the machine was finally withdrawn last year.
Health chiefs explained that it was standard practice to replace the machines every few years and machines have also advanced over the last few years.
Interim senior clinical matron in critical care, Tom Bingham, said: “I remember the Hartlepool Mail’s campaign very well – it’s thanks to the generous donations of readers that we were able to help so many patients.
“The non-invasive ventilator was used for many years in critical care at the University Hospital of Hartlepool before being transferred to the University Hospital of North Tees.
“Until it was replaced, it was still used regularly and was providing much needed care for patients across the trust.
“Previously, we would have had to put patients on to invasive ventilation. Machines like this prevent us from having to do this.
“It’s fair to say the device will have improved not just the outcome, but the overall experience of patients, allowing them to be treated with less invasive therapies.”
Pam said today: “It was 10 years last February that my mam passed away and this was a fitting remembrance to her.
“On behalf of all the family, we are overjoyed that the ventilator has been able to help so many patients, and so many families, at that critical time in terms of their illness.
“That the machine lasted for ten years and helped so many people is fantastic.
“I hope that whatever replaces it will help many people.”
Pam also thanked everyone who contributed to the appeal and said: “We were inundated with contributions and they came in from some unusual sources. The campaign touched so many people. A big shout out to everyone who contributed and raised so much money.”
Figures show 31 patients were treated on the machine in its first year of operation and another 21 in its second year.
But the amazing Hartlepool Mail readers were so generous, the money they raised surpassed the amount needed for the machine.
The rest went towards comforts for families who had to spend hours in the hospital’s critical care unit while they waited for news on relatives who are fighting for life.