Construction has started on PlusLife's new $10 million headquarters, with the first sod turned on the bone and tissue bank development in Midland today.
PlusLife Managing Director Anne Cowie joined Health Minister John Day and Planning Minister Donna Faragher for a special ceremony to mark the start of building works for its new bone and tissue processing facility.
Mrs Cowie said she was pleased to announce that Balcatta-based company PS Structures had been awarded the tender for the development, with work to start in the next few weeks.
"This is the start of an exciting new chapter for PlusLife that will see the construction of a state-of-the-art, purpose-built cleanroom, freezer and processing facility to meet growing demand for our services," Mrs Cowie said.
"We are greatly appreciative to the State Government for the generous capital grant which means our specialist and life-changing work can continue to help future generations."
The Barnett Government committed $10 million in the May State Budget to PlusLife's new head office, which includes the construction of a new cleanroom, testing and research laboratories, and freezer stores for bone graft and tissue processing.
Angus Hollington, 13, knows only too well the importance of bone and tissue donation. A donor bone saved his leg from amputation after a 10cm tumour was found in his left tibia in May 2014.
At just 11 years of age, Angus was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that primarily affects children and adolescents.
He endured a harrowing 130 days in hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatment as well as multiple bouts of surgery, including the removal of the cancerous bone. He then received a donor bone from PlusLife to replace the lost bone in his leg.
"Most people don't realise that organ donation also includes tissue, how that tissue is used, and the massive benefits these donations make to people's lives," Angus' mother Tracy Hollington said.
"The generous person who donated the bone to PlusLife, which Angus received has meant that my son will be as physically as capable as he would have been had he not had cancer.
"Because of this, his leg was saved from amputation and he will not suffer life-long disabilities, which is just awesome. It really is a very special gift."
Six years ago, a bone donation saved Harry O'Neill from a traumatic arm amputation as he battled bone cancer.
Harry, now 15, was just nine when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in his left shoulder and humerus. During an 18-hour operation, surgeons removed the tumour and Harry's humerus was replaced with a donor bone, saving his arm from amputation.
He said PlusLife had helped him retain a normal life.
"Without the bone donation from PlusLife there is no doubt I would have lost my arm and life would not be what it is today," Harry said.
"PlusLife saved me the pain of limb amputation and enabled me to live a happy, normal and active childhood in the face of my cancer diagnosis and treatment."
Mrs Cowie said one tissue donor had the potential to improve the wellbeing, sight and mobility of up to 60 people. But despite this, many people did not realise tissue donation was even possible.
PlusLife bone and tissue transplants are required almost every day to treat patients with spinal deformities, young people with bone cancers (often preventing the amputation of a limb); and many more patients with arthritic joint disease and sporting injuries.
Last year, more than 500 people were supplied bone and tissue transplants.
PlusLife is the only bone and tissue bank in WA and has delivered services valued at more than $30 million to the community over the past 23 years. In addition to supplying for local medical procedures, it also provides bone and tissue around Australia.
Construction of PlusLife's cleanrooms and laboratories is scheduled to start in December and will take about a year to build.
During that time, the organisation will retain its Nedlands site until the Midland processing facility has been completed. Technicians will man the Nedlands facility on a rotational basis to maintain the tissue processing and graft distribution functions.
In September, PlusLife's administration relocated from Nedlands to an existing building in Midland that adjoins the construction site.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443