Neurological Foundation - Chair of Neurosurgery

Research opportunities a key

February 2012

When her father's illness prompted an interest in neurology, Irene Mosley had no idea how important the medical field would be to her and those she loved.

The Neurological Foundation Chair in Neurosurgery campaign project manager not only has more than 20 years' experience working in community development and fundraising, she has first-hand experience of the impact of neurological conditions.

In 1996, when her father was 64, he suffered a silent heart attack, followed by a stroke.

"He was a vibrant man in his 60s who was left an invalid overnight," Mrs Mosley said.

He died six months later from a second heart attack, and not only did the experience teach her that strokes could affect anyone, but how important neurological research was. She became a Neurological Foundation supporter and began following its work.

Seven years later, the importance of having skilled neurosurgeons, with up-to-date techniques, hit home.

After suffering "terrible bleeding noses", one of her children was diagnosed with juvenile nasal angiofibroma, a tumour behind the nasal passages.

The child underwent "major surgery", during which a chunk of their cheek was removed to access the benign tumour, and spent 12 days in hospital.

Then 12 months later the family discovered the child had one on the other side, she said.

They travelled to Christchurch for another surgery during which the child's upper jaw was cut through horizontally to allow entry behind the nose.

When a tumour reappeared another year later, it was sitting close to the brain and was wrapped around both the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the throat, and the carotid artery.

The family decided to travel to Australia as the equipment over there allowed for a less invasive surgery.

The successful surgery showed how important it was to advance New Zealand's neurosurgeons "and we do that through research".

Despite her passion for neurosurgery, Mrs Mosley did not "march in the street in 2010".

"While we want to keep our neurosurgery services, it also needs to be a strong service. One or two surgeons is not a strong service," she said.

The improved service, of a team of specialised surgeons spread across both Dunedin and Christchurch, offered that strength, and opportunities for those surgeons to conduct vital research.

"This is a win-win for the whole South Island."

- ellie.constantine@odt.co.nz