International Pathology Day

13/Nov/2019     HealthPathology

International Pathology Day is dedicated to highlighting the fundamental role that pathology and laboratory medicine services play in the healthcare community.  

Results from pathology influence 70 per cent of medical decisions within a hospital and pathologists play an invaluable role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

General Manager Mater Pathology Deb Hornsby detailed a case study where late last year Mater Pathology helped save the life of a three-day-old baby in Mater Mothers’ Hospital.

“Levi was born healthy after a very normal and uneventful pregnancy however when he was three days old he began losing interest in feeds and became lethargic,” she said.

“Thanks to a quick-thinking midwife who responded to Levi’s mother’s concerns he was reviewed by his paediatrician and transferred to Mater’s Neonatal Critical Care Unit.   

“His doctors ordered a blood test, metabolic consult and cardiac consult. Immediate bed-side laboratory testing identified a metabolic disorder.”   

Deb said the highly skilled laboratory staff responded quickly to run diagnostic tests urgently which enabled the team to commence treatment within the hour of the metabolic team’s attendance. 

The specialist team in metabolic genetics were able to identify levels of ammonia were high in his blood which allowed life-saving treatment to begin. 

 “Within two hours of the metabolic team arriving Levi was settled in intensive care and the specialist scientist made a diagnosis of a urea cycle disorder,” Deb said.

“Further testing was run overnight and within 12 hours of his first clinical symptom Levi was diagnosed with ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC) an inherited life-threatening urea cycle disorder, occurring in about one in every 40 000 births.”   

Levi has had a rough first 11 months of life with multiple admissions to hospital however after receiving a liver transplant he is a thriving little boy who is making good developmental progress. 

His parents are delighted with the outcome and grateful to all staff who had the expertise and skills to recognise his deterioration and are grateful to Mater Pathology for the speed at which test results were available and ultimately saved his life.

“Levi was lucky he was born at Mater Mothers under the care of highly skilled midwives, paediatricians and neonatal intensive care staff and without the dedication and efficiency of the laboratory team, his outcome could have been very different,” Deb said.

“Mater Pathology has a small but dedicated team of highly skilled staff that go above and beyond to respond to the calls made by clinical specialists.  

“The metabolic team supervised by Avis McWhinney, supported by Matthew Reimer and with Dr Jim McGill as the Genetic Pathologist work tirelessly to support the patients, clinicians and families impacted by metabolic diseases.”

Deb explains metabolic disorders are lifetime diseases with no cure and the Pathology team help transition their patients from paediatric to adult services for the continuum of their lifetime care.

 “Our Metabolic team are key members and advisors to the Queensland Lifespan Metabolic Medicine Service run from Queensland Health.  The team here at Mater work with this group to ensure that children are not lost during the transition from paediatric to adult services and receive continuous care throughout their life.”

Supervising Scientist Chemical Pathology Specialist Chemistry, Avis McWhinney said the team are always happy to go above and beyond to achieve the best outcome for their patients.

“We are the oldest Pathology team in Queensland made up of dedicated and highly skilled individuals. We don’t always have calls to come in the middle of the night but when we do we know it’s in the best interest of the patient and that makes it all worthwhile.”

Mater Pathology is made up of 400 dedicated and highly skilled team members who make an invaluable contribution to patient outcomes each day.

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