Staff at South Tyneside District Hospital have a new state-of-the-art machine to call on thanks to an £84,000 donation from a charity set up by a South Shields man.
The cardiology team now has a echocardiograph machine, after the Heart Call charity raised the cash.
The equipment is used to do ultrasound scans which give accurate information about the size of the heart and the structure and function of the heart muscle and heart valves - all of which can help to detect abnormalities and explain the cause of symptoms or provide a diagnosis.
Up-to-date software offers advanced 3D views, with a specialised 3D transoesophageal echocardiogram - obtained by swallowing a small ultrasound probe - providing more detailed images.
Heart Call was started in the early 1980s after founding member Syd Nicholson, of South Shields, suffered a heart attack.
Mr Nicholson had a quadruple heart bypass at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and became a patient of consultant cardiologist Dr Lawrence Bryson, who was based at the Ingham Infirmary, South Shields.
The pair discussed the need for hi-tech equipment and the difficulty in keeping up with advances in technology for the treatment of heart disease.
Through his business and social contacts, Mr Nicholson sought donations to buy a heart monitor.
The South Tyneside Cardio Unit Voluntary Support Group, which became known as Heart Call, was set up in 1985 as a charity.
Mr Nicholson himself visited working men’s clubs, businesses and social clubs, as well as other voluntary groups, to raise money by giving talks.
He died in July 2012 and, by then, Heart Call had purchased over 75 pieces of equipment for the hospital, raising in excess of £600,000.
The charity, chaired by Dr Bryson, is still going strong, receiving regular donations from individuals and businesses.
A special event was held at the hospital to celebrate the work of Heart Call, which has helped to save and extend the lives of hundreds of heart patients.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Abdul Nasser added: “We want to say a massive thank you to Heart Call for their fundraising work which has saved so many lives.
“Without their efforts, a lot of local people would not be diagnosed or receive the treatment they need.”