For little four-year-old Lucy Mitchell, diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016, blood tests are a frequent occurrence.
So its perfectly natural that Lucy and her family should wonder where her blood samples go and how the labs process the results.
But, thanks to the charity Harvey’s Gang who invited Lucy and her family to Safari Ward at Watford General, some of those questions have now been answered.
Harvey’s Gang is a charity that demystifies the process of where blood samples are analysed by providing children and their families with a tour of the pathology labs.
Lucy was the first child to take a tour of Watford General’s labs with Harvey’s Gang. Lucy became a trainee biomedical scientist for the day and, along with her brother Charlie, aged eight, was given her very own lab coat. Lucy was also given her own ID pass to open the special doors to the labs.
Lucy and Charlie saw the machines that test Lucy’s bloods and met the specialist scientists who run the labs. They also looked through microscopes at blood cells, saw where blood was stored and followed the journey of Lucy’s blood through the lab. They were able to process her blood onto the computer system and watch it being tested.
Susannah Mitchell, Lucy’s mother, said the tour was very beneficial for everyone.
She commented: “Lucy has a blood sample every week, so it’s great knowing where it goes. She’s had blood transfusions before, so just knowing where it comes from is really interesting.”
Ben Sheath is a specialist transfusion practitioner who invited Harvey’s Gang into Watford General. He said: “Families can spend a lot of time waiting for blood results and this helps them to understand what happens in the labs. The initiative is great for lab staff too as it helps them see past the sample in their hand to the patient at the other end. It also opens up the labs to the rest of the hospital by improving links with the wards.”
After her tour, Lucy said that the best thing about it was “looking down the microscope and using the ID badge!”
Harvey’s Gang was launched in 2014 in memory of eight-year-old Harvey Buster Baldwin who visited the pathology labs at Worthing Hospital where he was treated for leukaemia.