Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wellington's child cancer unit up and running again

New 7:56AM Thursday Oct 16, 2008

The arrival in Wellington this week of two paediatric oncologists means that the capital's child cancer patients can now be treated much closer to home.

United States-born specialist Mwe Mwe Chao and her husband, Christian Kratz, fill the void created by the resignation of Liz Hesketh in July last year and Anne Mitchell in January.

Their departures forced the unit - one of three child cancer centres in the country - to send patients to Auckland or Christchurch, splitting families at a traumatic time in their lives.

It is now hoped all Wellington families affected by child cancer will be home for treatment by the end of November.

The two world-class clinicians, who have come from Germany's University of Freiberg Hospital, were in the unusual position of "looking for the same job in the same place".

"We thought it (New Zealand) would be a wonderful place to raise our family," they told The Dominion Post.

Dr Kratz said they were also excited at the prospect of rebuilding the service.

"All the staff are very motivated and there's a lot of positive energy."

Dr Kratz also plans to continue his world-leading research into the genetic origins of cancer.

The health board still hopes to recruit a third specialist.


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