Neurological Foundation - Chair of Neurosurgery

Racing club encourages others to support campaign

May 2012



It may be small, but it's a donation that every racing club in Southland should be making, Winton Harness Racing Club president Murray Swain said this week.

A recent $220 raffle collection would be going to the Chair of Neurosurgery campaign to support a unit that was vital for the sport.

"Accidents can happen in harness racing," Mr Swain said.

"And I'd hate to see us going to Christchurch (if an accident did happen)."

In 2010 the neurosurgery unit was retained at Dunedin after a petition to stop it from being moved to Christchurch by the Ministry of Health was signed by more than 55,000 people across Southland and Otago.

Two years on, the position of a chair to head the unit has been proposed to ensure the unit remains in the south.

The campaign has aimed to raise $3 million to keep the position ongoing, regardless of changes to government policy. Though the $2 million mark was reached just 10 weeks after fundraising began in January, there is still about $730,000 to go.

South Island Neurosurgical Service clinical director Martin MacFarlane – who is visiting Invercargill on Tuesday to continue the Southland launch of the campaign – said Southlanders make up about 50 per cent of the patients who come through the Southern unit at either Dunedin or Christchurch. In some cases, patients are flown to the unit in Auckland.

Mr Swain said racing was a risky sport and clubs should think about the importance of the unit.

In March, Cambridge man Tony Butler had a heart-stopping start to his first day as a fully licensed race starter when the start vehicle he was controlling blew a tyre and spun around to face a wall of horses at a track at Pukekohe.

Mr Swain said that was just the most recent example that came to mind.

"I'd challenge all clubs down here to make a donation as well."

Dr Martin MacFarlane, clinical director of the South Island Neurosurgical Service, will be speaking at the Victoria Room of the Civic Theatre in Invercargill at noon tomorrow.

He would address some of the myths attached to this area of medicine, he said.

"People often think it is only head injuries, this isn't true; head injuries make up a very small proportion of what we see ... it's a mix of brain, spinal cord and nerve trauma or disorder."


Public donations to the campaign can be made at any National Bank or ANZ branch.

Donations by mail: Freepost 2064, Neurosurgery Campaign, PO Box 914, Dunedin, 9054. By internet banking: Neurosurgery campaign 060287013330105