Sally Underwood has small, fragile veins that are difficult to locate with a needle. The elusive
vessels often frustrated nurses when she donated blood, but until her cancer diagnosis three years ago,
the delicate veins were never more than a minor hassle.
With frequent chemotherapy the once-minor nuisance became a major frustration. "The nurses at the
Cancer Center often needed a lot of
time to find a usable vein in my arm," Underwood recalls. "And sitting there in the Infusion
Center, I realized that I was not the only one with difficult veins. Other patients had problems, too."
Underwood started asking questions. Cancer
Center nurses told her about one solution an ultrasound system specifically designed to find
tiny blood vessels. The system could spare patients discomfort and save nurses time, but its price tag
was high: $16,000.
Underwood, a retired community college instructor, talked it over with her husband, Doug, a retired math
professor. After a brief discussion, the Davis couple decided to make a gift of the ultrasound system
to the Cancer Center, its nurses, and
"The nursing staff is so wonderful, I really wanted to do something in return for them, and for
cancer patients," says Sally, who continues to receive treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "It
makes a big difference when you are having chemotherapy treatments to be in a place that not only has
excellent nurses but also is warm, supportive, and friendly, full of laughter and positive attitudes."
About the size of a laptop computer, the SonoSite iLook 25 is mounted atop a rolling stand that can move
from patient to patient. A nurse puts some gel on the tip of a sturdy, hand-held sensor, which is placed
on the patient's arm. Within seconds, an image forms on the screen, disclosing vessels beneath the skin.
Finding a vein is quick and painless.
"This generous donation is greatly appreciated by staff and patients," says Kay Harse, a nurse
manager who helps oversee chemotherapy for some 11,000 cancer patients a year.
Thanks to Sally and Doug Underwood, those treatments will be a little more comfortable.