Publication date: 14 September 2017

Diamedica has provided medical equipment to thousands of people around the world – but never to the Queen of Pop.

That’s all changed now, thanks to a curious connection that means megastar Madonna, no less, has just received more than £10,000 worth of lifesaving medical equipment.

This will be used at Madonna’s new venture in Malawi, The Mercy James Center, named after her 11-year-old adopted Malawian daughter.

The Mercy James Center is a paediatric surgery and intensive care unit (ICU) and part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre.

This new children's wing will help the Queen Elizabeth double the number of surgeries performed on children each year, while also serving as a training centre for local doctors in Southern Africa.

Mercy James Center, Blantyre. Photo: Robert Neighbour


The facilitator of the novel connection between Diamedica and Madonna is a doctor called Mike Marks, who is the medical director of the Bush Hospital Foundation (BHF), based in Jersey, UK. Dr Marks has connections with Malawi that go back decades.

When Dr Marks became aware that the Mercy James Centre was in need of vital medical equipment, he immediately stepped in to help.

He said: “I have been a longstanding supporter of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – in the paediatric department and also the Nutritional Centre – so it was not a difficult decision to support the purchase of the items of equipment that they were lacking.”

This equipment included a portable anaesthesia machine and a Baby CPAP, to help babies with acute respiratory problems. 

A DPA02 portable anaesthesia machine in use

Development of aid

Dr Marks said: “We began helping in Malawi through Robin Broadhead, a paediatrician with connections to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who became the Dean of Malawi Medical School when it was founded.

“We donated nearly always in kind – eight different project vehicles and theatre equipment, for example.

“I became the African Medical Advisor to Direct Relief International (DRI), the Santa Barbara based donations in kind agency in the early 2000s.”

In this capacity Dr Marks installed a number of Diamedica’s Glostavent anaesthesia machines in various countries – Kenya, Uganda, Somaliland and Sudan for example,

This was as part of obstetric care programmes that were established through DRI and paid for by BHF.

Dr Marks said: “I have always been very impressed by the Glostavent and its reliability and can vouch for the fact that at Nyabondo in Kenya, it has been in daily use for years.”

Although it is now a very small organisation, BHF is still active and donations continue, with Dr Marks supervising their distribution.

Robert Neighbour, director of Diamedica praised Dr Marks’ efforts.

He said: “We have worked with Mike Marks for around 10 years and supplied equipment for many of the locations he has worked in. He is dedicated to helping hospitals in low-resource environments and knows very well the issues medical professionals face in these circumstances.

“This equipment will help the hospital provide treatment to more children who need it so badly. It is designed to function well in such settings and we are delighted to know it will be put to good use under Mike’s guidance.”

Dr Mike Marks

The Mercy James Centre
The new facility opened in July and is the first of its kind to be funded by the Madonna’s Raising Malawi charity, which she founded in 2006. 
Madonna has described The Mercy James Center as “a world-class intensive care hospital”, offering a superior learning environment for the training of the next generation of Malawian healthcare workers.
Officially opened on July 11, 2017, the facility will be the country’s first and only pediatric surgery and intensive care unit.
Since its official opening the Mercy James Centre has been accepting patients, and its paediatric surgery team has already:
• Performed 73 surgeries in the new theatres
• Admitted 13 patients to the ICU
• Seen 75 patients in the outpatient clinic
• Admitted 238 patients to the ward
Many would agree this is a very promising start.
To find out more about Dr Marks’ work and the Bush Hospital Foundation email:
Click here for more information about the Mercy James Center.
Click here for more about Diamedica’s lifesaving equipment.
Read more about this story in the Bailiwick Express.

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