20 Dec 2017, 1:27 p.m.

Six year old Thomas was the first patient at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital to be part of Harvey’s Gang when he visited our pathology labs with his brother Lewis and mum Lorraine on 20th December.

The Gang is named after Harvey Buster Baldwin, who passed away on October 6, 2014. First diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at just six years old, over the next 20 months his battle with cancer saw him spend many weeks in hospital at Worthing, and much of his care concerned the delivery of life-saving blood products for which he and his family would have to wait while they were processed. Harvey was curious about what happened to his blood once it was sent to Pathology, so the children’s ward arranged for Harvey to visit the haematology laboratories.

That simple act has precipitated a remarkable chain of events that sees seriously ill youngsters enjoying trainee scientist tours with their families at hospitals across the country, wearing special mini lab coats with personalised badges made by hospital staff that explain they are part of ‘Harvey’s Gang’.

Lead Nurse for Paediatric Oncology Claire Harrison says: “I am really excited about Harvey’s Gang coming to GRH, it is a great opportunity for our patients to see and understand exactly what happens to their blood every week. It’s also a great opportunity for me to get to know the staff in our pathology lab who work so hard in processing the blood samples I take from children and young people with cancer and leukaemia in Gloucestershire.”

Nikki Price, Senior Biomedical Scientist commented: “I am so pleased Harvey’s Gang has started in Gloucestershire. Such an amazing legacy to join that hopefully will take away the mystery of where blood samples go to and why it is so important for us to test them. My colleagues and I are really excited to make a positive difference to children’s experience of hospital visits and I hope that we pique their interest in science too!”  

Thomas’ Mum Lorraine adds: “Thomas really wanted to visit the lab and meet the people who his blood samples are sent to. The tour of the labs was great and it’s such a lovely thing to have on offer for young patients - getting to see him enjoy himself really meant a lot to me and it helps Thomas too. The staff were all lovely and spent their valuable time making this a day Thomas and his brother Lewis won't forget."

Every year, approximately 1 million blood samples are collected from children for testing in the UK. As well as being a positive experience for children, the tours also have a dramatic impact on the scientists at work, reminding them that every vial of blood they process represents a child or a patient in need of their help.


For more information please contact the Communications Team on 0300 422 3563 or email ghn-tr.comms@nhs.net

More about Harvey’s Gang: http://harveysgang.com/