A NEW cutting-edge treatment centre which could help Wiganers suffering from rare forms of cancer and blood disorders is now up and running.
Ahead of imminent work beginning on a new specialist oncology unit at Wigan Infirmary, the Christie Hospital has now opened the new centre in Withington.
The facility, run by NHS Blood and Transplant, will offer life-saving treatment for people with cancers and serious blood disorders across the north west.
A specialist machine called a photopheresis unit safely removes blood from the patients and filters out any harmful chemicals using ultraviolet light. It then puts the blood back into the body.
The treatment benefits patients who have suffered complications after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
The unit will allow them to receive expert care without having to travel to another centre three miles away.
Bosses say it will allow them to meet increasing demand and will also place patients closer to other services.
A spokesman for NHS Blood and Transplant said it would provide much-needed extra capacity and it had cost around £40,000 to refurbish and equip the facility.
The centre will officially be opened on Friday but it has already treated its first patient – 18-year-old leukaemia sufferer Alice Clarkson.
The teenager was living in Saudi Arabia when she was diagnosed with the disease in October 2009.
In October 2010, Alice returned to Manchester and began chemotherapy at The Christie’s teenage cancer unit. That year she got to meet some of her heroes, Manchester United players Nani, Patrice Evra, Bébé and former star Ji-Sung Park, when they visited the unit at Christmas.
Although she has responded well to the chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, she is still undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Lynda Hamlyn, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The work we do here demonstrates clearly that we offer a specialist service that is responsive to the needs of patients.
“We are delighted to be working with The Christie to provide this life-enhancing treatment to patients from across the north west.”