Treating premature babies and newborns at Whangārei Hospital has become easier thanks to a donation from a national health fund.

A donation of funds to Health Fund PLUS means staff at Whangārei Hospital's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) can easily access the veins of premature babies and newborns using a newly purchased Astoida Diaphanoscope. The equipment costs well over $1000.

Developed by a neonatologist, the Astodia uses the latest generation of high-powered LEDs to provide unobstructed views of even the smallest vessels in premature and small infants, reducing the number of needle sticks required.

Astodia utilises red and yellow wavelengths individually to accommodate different patient sizes and vein depths. The yellow light is for viewing smaller veins closer to the skin surface, while the red light illuminates deeper targets. The LEDs are adjustable with different gradients of brightness, for clear vein targeting at various tissue densities.


It is lightweight, portable and can be held under the patient's extremities without having to take them out of their incubator. Automatic safety features ensure that the patient is never exposed to an uncomfortable temperature.

The Dairy Goat Co-operative Trust chairwoman, Nicola Locke, said the trust was delighted to donate the funds to Health Fund PLUS for Northland DHB to buy the Astodia.

"The donation fits well with our trust's purpose of improving the health, education and welfare of children and families throughout our shareholder regions of Northland, Waikato and Taranaki," Locke said.

The trust's primary source of funding is its farmer shareholders, supplemented by contributions from fundraising events involving Dairy Goat Co-operative staff, shareholders and goods/services providers.

Health Fund PLUS was set up by NDHB and Northland Community Foundation to provide a way for people to give to the DHB by way of donations or endowments. It enables NDHB to buy equipment and services over and above what can be bought through government funding.