A REVOLUTIONARY piece of equipment has been donated to a new clinic at Tamworth hospital, and it's already helping patients in the city.
The SOZO device is a special set of scales which can be used to monitor body fluid levels in patients who might be at risk of developing the irreversible condition lymphoedema.
A local Tamworth group called Serendipity donated the $17,000 machine to the hospital's new Lymphoedema Early Intervention Clinic (LEIC).
The clinic's occupational therapist in-charge Trudy Wheeldon said the ability to detect the condition early in the piece is life-changing for patients.
"With early detection, you can prevent chronic development of lymphoedema ... if we get it in the early stages, it's very easy to maintain and a person can live a very normal life," she said.
"Even before they even show symptoms we can detect it from this machine."
Ms Wheeldon said out of all the people who need to have operations involving their lymph nodes, one quarter will go on to develop lymphoedema.
But, with early detection, she said that statistic can be lowered to 10 per cent.
"This lovely machine is very compact, it's very simple, there's no adverse effects to the patient, they simply stand on it and it conducts low electrical impulses and reads the amount of fluid ... it compares one side of the body to the other," Ms Wheeldon said.
Lymphoedema is a health condition where the patient's lymph nodes have been affected - possibly by cancer treatment or surgery - causing fluid to build up in the patient's body.
"It can be really debilitating to a person," she said.
The SOZO device acts like a scale to quickly detect possible fluid build up before even the patient notices.
It's a key piece of equipment for the new LEIC at Tamworth hospital, which opened in June this year.
The first of its kind at the hospital, Serendipity were thrilled to hand over the SOZO device to the clinic after two years of fundraising efforts.
"We have raised the money over recent years with functions and also donations we have received," secretary Robyn Barton said.
"We're very excited and it's very satisfying for us to see something that's being so well utilised within the community."
After years of work behind the scenes, the machine has allowed the clinic to get off the ground running.
Ms Wheeldon said the personal side of the donation was especially felt when a local who had been involved in the fundraising effort with Serendipity came into the clinic as a patient.