The Peter Dan Family teams up with the Northcare Foundation to keep hearts pumping – April 2020

The Peter Dan family have kindly donated a life-saving state of the art device called a Cardiohelp ECMO System. The Cardiohelp is a compact and portable device that provides life-saving heart and/or lung support.

What is ECMO?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a life support machine. People who need ECMO have a severe and life-threatening illness that stops their heart and/ or lungs from working properly. For example, ECMO is used during life threatening conditions such as severe lung damage from infection (e.g., COVID-19), or shock after a massive heart attack.

Why is ECMO used?

ECMO can help people whose:

  • Lungs cannot provide enough oxygen to the body, even with extra oxygen and a mechanical ventilator
  • Lungs cannot remove enough carbon dioxide even with high pressures via a mechanical ventilator
  • Heart cannot pump enough blood around the body despite medications and standard ICU support

How does an ECMO machine work?

The ECMO machine is connected to a patient through plastic tubes (cannula). The placement of the tubes is called cannulation and is generally performed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The ECMO machine pumps blood from the patient’s body to an artificial lung (oxygenator), which adds oxygen and removes carbon dioxide, thus replacing the function of the lungs. The ECMO machine then pumps the blood back to the patient with the same force as the heart, replacing its function.

This generous donation will no doubt save lives and we are very grateful to the Dan family for their support

Kelly Harbour, Sarah Webb, A/Prof Carole Foot, Dr Lewis Macken (Director, RNSH ICU), Dr Wade Stedman

A simulation set-up in the Northcare Simulation room within the Royal North Shore Hospital Intensive Care Unit. The Cardiohelp ECMO machine in the foreground.

Education Equipment donated to RNSH ICU by The Northcare Foundation


In 2018, The Northcare Foundation made a further donation for the purchase of:

  • A breathing simulator ($58,000)

This state-of-the-art lung simulator is the first to be used in an Intensive Care Unit in Australia and New Zealand. It can be used in conjunction with our simulation manikin or on its own with a ventilator. It allows us to simulate complex respiratory illnesses, which are a commonly encountered challenge in the Intensive Care Unit.

  • A new camera for the Northcare Simulation Centre ($6,500)

This high definition pan-tilt-zoom camera has added a great deal of detail and flexibility to the viewing and recording of our simulation scenarios.

  • A pacemaker simulator ($3,500)

This simulator has allowed us to train nursing and medical staff at the bedside and on courses in the use of temporary cardiac pacemakers.


The Northcare Foundation made a generous donation in 2014, allowing for the purchase of:

  • SimMan Essentials simulation manikin with vital signs monitor and audio-visual system allowing for recording and remote viewing ($102,000)

This equipment was used to establish The Northcare Simulation Centre, a state-of-the-art facility in a working bed-space in the ICU. Our manikin, ‘Ned’ is used on a regular basis, for weekly interprofessional simulation training, trainee and nursing education sessions and courses. He is still going strong. It is estimated that he is used for 100 scenarios per year, by 5-10 participants, meaning that he has been used to teach approximately 3000 nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. He has been used all over the hospital including in the angiography suite and CT scanner for training with other teams and specialities. The audio-visual system has been invaluable, allowing viewing of scenarios by large audiences, recording of scenarios and even the transmission of a live simulation to the Kolling Building during a Grand Rounds presentation.

  • An upgrade to our existing resuscitation manikin ($5000)

‘Benny’ was upgraded to make his functionality infinitely better. He is used regularly to teach basic and advanced life support.

  • Airway management trainer ($3,500)
  • Nasogastric tube and Tracheostomy trainer ($3,500)
  • Bronchoscopy trainer ($4,000)
  • Difficult airway trainer ($4,000
  • Chest Drain trainer ($4,000)
  • Central Line trainer ($5,000)

These task trainers are used regularly as part of in-house education and during the delivery of courses for both internal and external delegates. Some of them are used for the competency assessment of junior doctors and nurses, making our training more efficient.


© The Northcare Foundation

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