$600 raised for cancer dog trust

A recent dress-up day at East Taieri School has raised funds for local science-based charitable trust K9 Medical Detection New Zealand.

Pupil Ruan Hamman (11) presented $600 worth of gold coin donations raised by the school to the charitable trust.

"I know that we all want to help prevent cancer in New Zealand," he said.

K9 Medical Detection New Zealand founder and chief executive Pauline Blomfield said the charitable trust was proud to be based locally on the Taieri conducting "world-leading" research.

The dogs could smell volatiles emitted from cancer cells, Mrs Blomfield said.

"Cancer does have a unique signature odour, and this is what we train the dogs to detect."

Using patient urine samples the highly trained medical detection canines were able to sniff out cancer.

A dog would be rewarded when it correctly identified which compartment had cancer cells in it, Mrs Blomfield said.

Two dogs were able to detect prostate cancer and two were able to detect bowel cancer.

"And we hope next year to start ovarian cancer detection," Mrs Blomfield said.

Zoey Hill (9, centre left) and Georgia Fehsenfeld (8) meet medical detection dogs Magic (2, left)...
Zoey Hill (9, centre left) and Georgia Fehsenfeld (8) meet medical detection dogs Magic (2, left), with team member Tessa Mackenzie, and Freida (4) with team member Courtney Moore. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON

In New Zealand, about 23 people every week died from bowel cancer and one woman died every 48 hours from ovarian cancer, she said.

"Our goal is to basically create a simple urine diagnostic test that is not invasive, and for early detection."

As it was a new diagnostic test the trust had to be very rigorous and robust with training and methodology.

The trust had completed its proof-of-concept stage and the dogs were working at a very high level of proficiency.

"In fact we are talking about 100% success."

Now the trust was moving to a diagnostic test accuracy stage.

"So it does take time but of course the results will be absolutely amazing."

The tests had the potential to decrease invasive tests and help increase the efficiency of the health system, Mrs Blomfield said.

The charitable trust needed the community’s help to raise funds because about $250,000 per year, per cancer was needed.

"So next year I need to raise about $500,000 and although it seems a lot, in the medical fraternity it is not a lot when you think of the potential lives it could save."

Visiting East Taieri School was a chance to give information to the local community about the trust’s work.

"We are really community based. We know there are a lot of parents here that work at the hospital and are involved in the medical industry."

Volunteer Janine Boulton said pupils Zoey Hill and Georgia Fehsenfeld would be "shaking buckets" at a number of events to fundraise for the charitable trust.

They would also be selling a 2022 K9MD fundraiser calendar, and people could visit k9md.org.nz to give.

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