Lest We Forget

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH BORNEO BULLETIN ARCHIVES

Compiled by Zainul Akmal Zaini

Machine helps solve body’s problems

FEBRUARY 3, 1979 – A BND250,000 machine which takes photographs of the inside of patients’ bodies by sound waves is now being used at the hospital here.

Known as an Ultrasound machine, it was installed late last year and is proving invaluable in investigating problems with pregnancies and diagnosing a wide range of common ailments.

“The principle is simple,” said Dr Tony Jones, the State Radiologist. “A beam of sound is sent into the patient. Part of the beam is then reflected back from the organs within the patient, and this is analysed by a computer and a picture of the ‘inside’ of the patient shown on a television screen.”

The machine can zoom in on any area of the X-ray picture appearing on the screen and enlarge it or freeze it, or even record the picture and information on a video set to be played back later.

The patient lies on a couch next to the equipment and the beam of light is aimed at the particular organ being analysed. Then, instantaneously, a picture of the organ together with all the relevant information comes up on the screen.

Dr Jones and the machine. A patient under examination can see for himself what’s wrong inside his body when the picture appears on the screen opposite

Ultrasound machines work in conjunction with ordinary X-ray machines because they show up the soft organs of the body clearly but not the bones, which are picked out by normal X-rays.

Dr Jones emphasised the Ultrasound is harmless to patients, unborn babies and staff operating it.

“On our machine there is a mini-computer which both analyses the information and enhances the picture quality. It is particularly useful in investigating problems in pregnancy; for example, whether the twins are present, if the afterbirth is in the wrong position, and if the baby is growing and its heart beating properly,” he said.

“And of course, there is no harm to the baby, whereas it is best to avoid ordinary X-rays in pregnancy,” Dr Jones added.

The machine can often determine the sex of babies before they are born, because the pictures are so clear.

“We can also use Ultrasound to differentiate cancer from cysts or abscesses, and for many other investigations including heart, kidney, liver and some gynaecological problems,” said Dr Jones.

It also plays an important role in diagnosing victims of traffic accidents, such as determining whether any brain damage has resulted.

When necessary, the Ultrasound can be used to take a photograph, or an actual sample, of a piece of tissue or particle of fluid right inside the body.

A needle is attached to the sound beam arm of the machine and the doctor can tell exactly where to penetrate the body from the picture on the screen.

However, Dr Jones said this treatment is rarely needed. When it is done, local anaesthetic is put on the spot the needle will penetrate and the whole process is “as painless as a mosquito sting”.

The machine has already proved its value – and has made life for the doctors and patients a great deal easier. – Robin Alp

Meet Brunei Museum’s first taxidermist

FEBRUARY 22, 1969 – Lifelike specimens of Borneo animals are now being mounted for the Brunei Museum by its first taxidermist, Abdul Rahim bin Ahmad (pic below).

He is seen stretching a musang skin over a papier-mache form of the animal’s body. In the background is a specimen of a wak-wak – white-faced gibbon – he recently completed.

Abdul Rahim, 28, showed a flair for art at Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) College before he joined the museum staff as one of its first recruits in 1963.

He was sent to the Sarawak Museum in Kuching to study taxidermy and general museum work for nearly three years.

Later, he went to Malaysia’s Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur for another two years and also learned how to prepare displays of animals and birds in replicas of their natural surroundings.

Even a small animal takes about a fortnight to mount and prepare as a museum exhibit.

The Brunei Museum – still housed in the Brunei Town Civic Centre until its new building has been completed at Kota Batu – has a small deep-freeze packed with the bodies of animals awaiting preparation. Most have been collected by members of the public.

Abdul Rahim now works in a makeshift workshop at the centre.

Before skinning an animal, he makes sketches and notes of its colour and matches its eyes with his stock of imported glass eyes.

For an animal like a monkey, he also takes a cast from its face.

When he has removed the skin, he uses calipers to take careful measurements of its body, limbs and tail, and then builds up a papier-mache model on a stiff wire frame.

The skin is then cleaned and cured and sewn on, glass eyes inserted and any necessary colour retouching done. To ensure a lifelike pose, Abdul Rahim works from his sketch and photographs of a live model.

Birds’ bodies are reproduced more easily, using only bound bundles of straw, but handling their feathered skins is more delicate work.

The museum curator, Pengiran M Shariffuddin, said one of the museum collectors, Ahmat Ibrahim, is already understudying Abdul Rahim, but more trainees will be needed when the taxidermy department moves into the bigger quarters in the new museum building. – Bulletin picture