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Mayo Proton Beam Installation Begins

Posted at: 06/13/2013 6:40 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a project that is supported by one of the largest donations Mayo Clinic has ever received, their proton beam therapy building.

Thursday the installation started on one of its most important features. The equipment that will help treat thousands of cancer patients.

Many watched in awe as the 20,000 pound equipment was loaded into the Richard Jacobson Proton Beam Therapy Building. The equipment will form the gantry’s which are the largest part of the proton beam therapy.

Watching it was even more exciting for Mayo Clinic physicist Jon Kruse, who knows exactly how this equipment will help change treatment for cancer patients.

"It will target the tumors, so it will minimize the effect on healthy tissues," said Kruse.

As unique and precise as the treatment will be, so is the process of getting the equipment in the building.

"A lot of pre-planning was required, we have a dedicated lift plan for each piece, because each piece is awkward and each piece has a different weight," said Boldt Construction manager Josh Christensen.

Thursday was only the beginning. There are 18 pieces for each of the 4 gantries. Each gantry totals 125 tons of steel.

"We have a communication sequence to insure that everyone is on the same page and we have ten people working on these picks," said Christensen.

With the extreme caution that is needed, just getting the first pieces into the building took about an hour. It's estimated that each gantry will take 5 weeks to install.

"So we'll be receiving roughly 2-3 pieces per day," said Christenson.

These gantry's will allow the proton beam's to target those specific spots or tumors.

"This equipment will have big magnets and it will allow us to bend the beam around and shoot from various angles," said Kruse.

The building will not be open for patients for another two years, but it’s now one step closer to changing the lives of many.

"It should give us another way to offer our patients state of the art treatment and the best that can be offered anywhere in the world," said Kruse.

Crews plan to load the biggest portion of equipment on Monday. It weighs more than 30 tons. Mayo estimates that 1,240 patients will receive the proton beam therapy each year.