Fake GoFundMe page mimicking Rotunda Hospital fundraiser reported

A fundraising page which was set up imitating the Rotunda Hospital, has been taken down.

The GoFundMe page impersonated the Rotunda, copying their genuine plea for funding for a new ultrasound machine.

The page was removed before amassing any money, however, after Dr Afif El-Khuffash reported the page to the website.

“The page was taken down immediately,” the neonatologist said.

“We reported it to GoFundMe and they handled it.

“Thankfully nothing was paid into it at all.”

A genuine fundraising drive for an ultrasound machine for premature babies in the Rotunda Hospital was launched earlier in the month.

The campaign began on December 4 and has since amassed over €60,000 in donations, almost at its target of €76,500.

Mr El-Khuffash, who works at the intensive care unit in the Rotunda, and organised the fundraiser said that “it’s going really, really well.”

Speaking to Independent.ie, Dr El-Khuffash said that a new ultrasound machine is a “vital” piece of equipment for the hospital.

“Our current ultrasound machine is used for two to three scans every 24 hours. It takes half an hour per baby and then interpretation of the scan takes another half an hour as the scans are comprehensive,” he said.

“At this stage, it is a vital piece of equipment for the hospital, so we’re starting to fundraise early for a new machine so we can ensure the level of care is always high.”

He explained that the current echocardiography machine, more commonly known as an ultrasound machine, is nearing its end of life.

“Over the next four to six months, we will be needing a new machine. The current machine isn’t unserviceable at the moment, but the quality of the images it produces and the information that can be taken from them is reducing.

“It’s reaching its end of life,” Dr El-Khuffash added.

The machine is used to conduct two to three scans per day on mostly premature babies in the intensive unit.

It assesses the baby’s heart structure and gives information on heart function.

“Using this machine, we can look at how the heart is working, use it to decide which medication best suits the situation and monitor response to treatment,” he said.

The current ultrasound machine in use was also purchased through crowd-funding.

“The one we have now we also bought through donations. Over the seven years I’ve worked here, I’ve seen several different campaigns for funds for different equipment.”

Dr El-Khuffash explained that this is due to shortages in government funding.

“Every year, the Rotunda asks the government for around €1.6 million to €1.7 million in funds but we only get allocated a fraction of that.

“There’s parallel fundraising campaigns in other hospitals too, this is something that happens regularly in the health service.

“I don’t want to be negative towards the government as I know there is a limited pot of money and they do their best,” he added.

Speaking on Newstalk yesterday morning, health minister Simon Harris said that he understood that there was “never an application to the HSE Estates” to fund the new machine.

“My understanding is from my own enquiries to the HSE is that there was never an application to the hse estates to fund that, that this is an initiative that the Rotunda decided to proceed with and there was never an application for state funding,” he said.

“We have €11bn to spend on capital over the next 10 years and we’ll be more than able to assist with essential and important equipment like that.”

Responding to the minister’s comments several hours later on Newstalk, the Master of Rotunda Hospital Fergal Malone said that the decision to crowdfund is an example of “philanthropy” from staff at the unit.

“This particular piece of equipment, just to clarify, this is an example of innovation and creativity of our staff,” he said.

“The original heart scan machine was funded through philanthropy a number years ago and wasn’t originally funded through HSE funding.”

He said that to replace the machine, the staff decided that “the best thing to do is to go to philanthropy again” rather than adding to a list of equipment they have requested from the HSE.

A donation to the official GoFundMe campaign can be made here.

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