More than $120,000 has been donated to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse from 21 Specsavers stores in New South Wales, funds which have been used to perform surgeries on 30 different patients using a state of the art surgical robot.

The robot, which was the first of its kind to arrive in Australia, was bought by Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in December 2015, and costs $4000 for every surgery it’s used for.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse held a special thank you breakfast for Specsavers, where CEO Eileen Hannagan spoke about how their contribution has been directly helping cancer patients at the centre.

Eileen says ‘We were the first hospital in the Southern Hemisphere to get a da Vinci Xi Dual Console Surgical System which we purchased for head and neck surgery.

‘The surgical robot translates the hand movements of the surgeon into precise movements of tiny, wristed instruments working inside the patient’s body. This allows the surgeon to get down to the back of the tonsils or the throat to remove the tumours.

‘The difference to patients is incredible. They’ve not been cut, they’ve not had their jaw broken, but they have had their tumour removed.

‘Many patients can pay, but the patients who can’t pay are funded by our hardship program. So community support enables these patients to have life-changing surgery.’

Eddy Chan, optometrist and co-owner of a supporting store, Specsavers Seven Hills, said he was thrilled to see the store’s donations have been put towards such a great cause.

‘Learning about this piece of technology was amazing. The fact that it can perform much less invasive surgery on patients who are already experiencing a tough road after a cancer diagnosis is so important. I am very happy to learn our fundraising has gone to such a worthy cause’.

When speaking about how much the operating costs are for the surgical robot, Eileen commented ‘Hospitals don’t make the kind of money we’d need to continue to let this kind of technology to run, it’s really the community support that enables that’.

Gail O’Brien, wife of the late Chris O’Brien was also present at the breakfast and wanted to thank the store personally, adding ‘We have come so far and we wouldn’t have got there without your support’.

The funds have been donated over the past five years as part of the Specsavers Community Program, whereby Specsavers stores across Australia donate a portion of their glasses profits to both a local charity partner, such as Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and national charity partner The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Back to News