A retired midwife and nurse from Birmingham has generously gifted £30,000 to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity to help fund a huge upgrade on a groundbreaking piece of equipment used to treat children who require brain surgery. 

Jean Jefferies, 82, was a patient at Birmingham Children’s Hospital as a teenager, and her experience there inspired her lifelong career as a midwife and nurse, which saw her travel the world with the armed forces, work locally in the NHS, as well as teach at Birmingham universities. Her career of helping others, coupled with her Christian faith, means Jean has always given charitably.  

One day, whilst at home, Jean saw an advert on television of a young child battling cancer, who was ringing the end-of-treatment bell. The celebratory moment struck a chord with Jean and made her want to do something to help the sick children in the community. After speaking with Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, the team was able to find a project that Jean agreed would really make a difference. 

Her generous donation of £30,000 means the hospital has been able to upgrade a groundbreaking piece of neurophysiology equipment called a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) system, helping to make it even more effective for patient treatment.  

The system is primarily used on patients struggling with severe epilepsy or brain tumours. TMS is completely safe, non-invasive and pain-free technology that lets our neuroscientists electrically stimulate the patient’s brain to map critical areas of brain function, such a movement, language and sensory functions. The vital information obtained is then used to help determine if surgery is a viable option for the child and, if it is, allows our surgeons to plan a procedure that will protect brain function as much as possible.  The ability to use this technology is truly lifechanging. 

The original system, which was also charitably funded, was purchased in 2020 and featured 64 electrodes. Thanks to Jean’s gift, and that of other donors who contributed, the hospital has been able to purchase a new, upgraded system, which now features 128 electrodes, providing enhanced diagnostics. The increased sensitivity of the equipment also opens the use of this technology to more children, who were otherwise ineligible to have this type of assessment.   

Jean says: “I’m so pleased to have been able to support the hospital in this way. To see the kit in use and learn how it is supporting the work of the medical staff is wonderful. There is no better feeling to know my gift will make a difference to so many children in the future.” 

Nicole Hermanns, Head of Philanthropy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, says: “The impact of Jean’s donation, and those able to give such a significant gift, cannot be overstated. The TMS system, in particular, has become a vital piece of equipment for our surgeons, and our neurophysiology team have used it to revolutionise and break new ground in this treatment area.” 

“We’re so thankful for the generosity of supporters like Jean, who enable us to go above and beyond for our patients.”