$1m gift for allergy centre

Posted on: Tue, 05/09/2006 - 12:45am
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[url="http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/story/0,20281,19062468-5001028,00.html"]http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/story/0,20281,19062468-5001028,00.html...
May 08, 2006

MELBOURNE'S Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) was set to become Australia's leading allergy treatment and research centre, Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said today.

The State Government's announcement today of a $430,000 funding package to establish an allergy department at the hospital was upstaged by a pledge of $1 million from Crazy John mobile phone founder John Ilhan.

But Ms Pike did not seem to mind.

"I commend Mr Ilhan for making a real and positive contribution toward improving the treatment of this potentially deadly condition," Ms Pike said.

Mr Ilhan said his contribution would come from the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation.

He established the foundation this year because his youngest daughter Jaida, 5, suffers from a severe form of peanut allergy that could kill her.

"The decision to create the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation came from the heart," Mr Ilhan said.

"To see Jaida suffering from allergy attacks was heart breaking.

"Both Patricia (my wife) and I knew we had to do something about the problem."

The foundation is a Melbourne-based charitable trust that offers financial support to child focused organisations Australia wide.

Ms Pike said the government funding and Mr Ilhan's donation would ensure there was a significant boost to diagnosis and treatment of allergies at the RCH.

"The Royal Children's Hospital will be the premier allergy research centre in Australia," Ms Pike said.

"It is vital that we tackle this issue head on"

Associate Professor Mimi Tang, who has been appointed director of the allergy department, said the funding would allow the hospital to treat more patients with allergies.

She said the money would also be used to employ a dietician, data manager, nurse practitioner and paediatric trainee.

"Rates of allergic disease have increased dramatically in the past 30 years," Professor Tang said.

"One in three children in Australia are affected by allergies," she said.

"We should and must be concerned because they (allergies) have a huge impact on quality of life."

The RCH treats 200 new patients with allergy problems each month

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