Kerry Dowling, blood transfusion lab manager
Harvey’s Gang invites ill youngsters to become trainee biomedical scientists for the day and to tour pathology laboratories with their families. The tours are specifically tailored to the individual child’s interests and needs, to lessen their fears, to answer any questions they may have and to help them gain an understanding of why we do what we do. For example one little girl suffered a severe needle phobia which made obtaining blood traumatic for her and her family. Since taking the tour she has overcome her fear.
The initiative started at Worthing Hospital and is named after a child who passed away from leukaemia. Harvey had a pathology tour which had a profound effect on both him and his family. We realised that we could do the same for children at Southampton Children’s Hospital so a team of laboratory staff worked together with the play specialist team to set up ‘Harvey’s Gang’ tours. Staff developed pictures and training material in their own time, designed practical elements and worked hard to ensure the lab was a safe, secure and welcoming environment for the children and their families.
Experiencing the children’s enthusiasm and determination has been amazing. The feeling that, as a team, we are making a real difference is inspirational. Emily has struggled with a severe needle phobia, so just hearing that her visit has led her to ask 'when can I have my blood taken?' has been very emotive and motivational for us all.
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