Ultrasound helps find diagnosis for Oliver 

Ultrasound helps find diagnosis for Oliver 

Fifteen-year-old Oliver

When fifteen-year-old Oliver developed a persistent cough and unexplained fatigue, he thought it was nothing more than a stubborn virus. An ultrasound revealed something far more sinister.   

After initially visiting his local GP, Oliver was urgently referred to the Emergency Department (ED) at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, where he met Dr Donovan Dwyer, Director of Trauma. 

met Dr Donovan Dwyer, Director of Trauma at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick

Suspecting something was wrong, Dr Dwyer performed an ultrasound scan using a portable ultrasound machine. It was this scan that identified fluid around Oliver’s lungs and heart, and a mass in his chest, which all but confirmed Dr Dwyer’s suspicions – Oliver had cancer.  

Oliver was soon diagnosed with classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a type of cancer affecting the body’s immune system.  

The diagnosis came as a shock to Oliver and his family.  

“When I was first told that I had lymphoma, it was this moment of me sitting there repeating what the doctor had said. I just remember feeling overwhelmed. I was nervous. I was scared. I was feeling a mix of things, and I had a whole bunch of questions,” Oliver said. 

The portable ultrasound machine played a crucial role in allowing Dr Dwyer to quickly identify the likely diagnosis and to refer Oliver to the oncology team for further investigation. This enabled them to promptly decide on a treatment plan and get Oliver the help he needed.  

“Because Oliver’s potential diagnosis was identified so quickly and with such skill, it meant we could move on with treatment as fast as we possibly could have hoped,” Oliver’s mum, Niki said.  

“The result from the portable ultrasound machine allowed the doctors and nurses to hit the ground running.”

Dr Dwyer says a portable ultrasound machine is an indispensible piece of equipment to have in the Emergency Department.  

“In my experience, having a portable ultrasound machine in the paediatric environment helps in unmeasurable ways,” Dr Dwyer said.  

“It is a non-invasive and radiation-free way to quickly get the information that we need at the bedside, to decide whether there is something that we can treat because we have found it or that needs further investigation and in cases like Oliver’s, it can make a huge difference.”  

It was the generosity of a donor that enabled the SCH ED to purchase its first portable ultrasound machine many years ago.

It was the generosity of a donor that enabled the SCH ED to purchase its first portable ultrasound machine many years ago. Now, the journey has come full circle with the Sydney Kids Committee raising $80,000 this year, including $51,000 at their 30th anniversary Gala Ball, for the purchase of a new ultrasound machine for the ED.  

Oliver and his mum, Niki

Working in partnership with Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation, the Sydney Kids Committee has helped to raise more than $1.3 million over the years, with funds going towards supporting the latest and most advanced medical equipment for services across Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick. 

"The quality of the ultrasound machines we have today are testament to the fundraising of the past and go a long way to making a child’s outcome, like Oliver’s, better,” Dr Dwyer said. 

Since his diagnosis, Oliver has started chemotherapy and despite the challenges, remains resilient. He is now halfway through treatment and is responding well.

“The checkpoints that we've had along the way show that he is responding extremely well and is unlikely to need radiotherapy, which is great news,” Niki said.  

Both Oliver and Niki attribute a big part of Oliver’s recovery to the unwavering support of his doctors and nurses, who have helped them navigate their healthcare journey.  

“This is the sort of thing that you think is never going to happen to you. Then when it does, it is very surreal but it has made us so grateful for the resources available and the medical care Oliver has received has just been second to none,” Niki said.  

They also have a firsthand appreciation for the fundraising efforts of the community and are sharing their story in the hopes of inspiring more people to give. 

"Our story shows the difference that donating can make so we really want to share that with people,” Niki said.  

“I truly believe the benefits [of donating] to the hospital, the staff, and the patients will be long-lasting,” Oliver added.