Charity Awards 2024

Kids Operating Room

Keeping the lights on during paediatric surgery

Over the last six years, Kids Operating Room has installed 86 operating rooms in 30 African, Asian and Latin American countries, creating capacity for children to access safe surgery.

Kids Operating RoomHowever, hospitals have constantly notified the charity of power outages in their operating rooms, which can be life-threatening as machines and ventilators shut down. Surgical teams have sometimes been forced to use their mobile phones’ lights to continue surgery.

Kids Operating Room has often been asked to install back-up generators or other interventions to prevent interruptions to surgery. But generators can be clunky, noisy and expensive to run and with the rising cost of fuel, not all hospitals can afford the fuel to use them.

So in 2022, the charity’s team in Dundee invented an innovative solar surgery product and tested it in four hospitals across sub-Saharan Africa.

By measuring the energy generated from the solar panels and consumed by the electrical devices in the operating rooms, and monitoring the frequency of power outages, the technology can replace local grid electricity when outages occur.

The system can power the operating rooms for up to 11 hours when the sun goes down or there is a power cut, and saves on average 2.6 tonnes of CO2 per year per operating room.

To date, Kids Operating Room has equipped 10 operating rooms with this technology and aims to retrospectively install it in all its existing operating rooms by 2030. It will offer the solar surgery system as standard with every operating room installed in the future.

Charity Awards judge Farah Nazeer said: “The use of solar technology in this context is exciting and innovative, and the creative drive to generate and realise a solution to the challenge of light in operating rooms is impressive, as are the learnings around managing the infrastructural challenges. The sustainability is also hugely impressive.”

Judge Kris Murali, chief financial officer at the Royal NAAFI, pointed out that the project was literally saving children’s lives, which was making a real difference.

OSCR Reg no. SC048523

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