Why the Foundation was formed
During the early 1970's, life for Queensland leukaemia patients, their families and the nursing and medical staff was very different to what it is today. There were no patient support and accommodation facilities, no bone marrow transplant facilities and training for nursing staff was limited. Brisbane had only one clinical haematologist.
Treatment meant months of chemotherapy, severe side effects and isolation in a Brisbane hospital without support. Accommodation for regional families was scarce and expensive.
Patients were kept isolated from their families out of fear of infection. Parents were not allowed to comfort and care for their children, and patients and their families were left to combat the psychological challenges of treatment on their own. Staff did their best to deliver quality care.
Bone marrow transplant facilities were available in Sydney and Melbourne only. Queensland patients strong enough to undergo a bone marrow transplant travelled south, and their families made their own arrangements and covered the expenses.
Southern states also had other medical equipment available such as blood separator machines which were not available in Queensland . The blood cell separator stabilised the patient before chemotherapy commenced and had immediate, positive results in the patient's treatment.
The time is ripe for change
In the early 1970s in Queensland many leukaemia patients died while their families suffered and the hospital nursing staff looked on in frustration. It was at this time and under these circumstances that Brisbane 's first clinical haematologist, Dr Trevor Olsen, began agitating for change.
Frustrated by the lack of medical treatment and support facilities, Dr Olsen decided to raise funds himself to purchase medical equipment to be donated to the Mater Hospital . His first purchase, with the help of Kurilpa Lions Club, was a lamina flow bed which protected the occupant from germs.
At this time, Trevor was treating a young boy whose father happened to be the secretary of the Holland Park Lions Club.
Bernie Stevenson watched his young son die from leukaemia, and knew first hand the trauma of the disease and its treatment. Bernie introduced Trevor to the Holland Park Lions Club and the Lions Leukaemia Foundation was formed on the 9 October 1975.
The new Foundation set four goals: to provide medical care, patient support, research and education for patients, their families and nursing staff.
The Leukaemia Foundation is now proud to be providing world-class patient support services in every state and territory across Australia . We reach 50% of all newly diagnosed patients whether they are located in metropolitan, regional or remote rural areas.
We have also invested millions into vital research into better treatments and cures and are the only national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the care and cure of patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.