New initiative to help children with ‘needle phobia’ at Altnagelvin

A new initiative to help children with long term health conditions who have are afraid of needles, is being introduced at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 5:34 pm
Pictured at the launch of Harvey's Gang Iniative: Back Row from left: Giselle McKewon, NIBTS; Siobhan Ashe, Lead Biomedical Scientist SW Acute Hospital; Naomi Smyth, Biomedical Scientist, Altnagelvin Hospital and Barbara Mullin, NIBTS, with other Western Trust staff at the launch.

The Western Trust said it was delighted to launch the ‘Harvey’s Gang’ initiative, which invites children with needle phobia to become trainee biomedical scientists for the day and tour the pathology laboratory with family members.

The tours are specifically tailored to the child’s individual needs and interests and offer young patients the opportunity to see where their samples are processed and analysed by the Western Trust Blood Sciences Laboratory, and where blood products are issued from.

‘Harvey’s Gang’ was launched by Chief Biomedical Scientist Malcolm Robinson at Worthing Hospital, West Sussex in November 2014 in memory of eight-year-old Harvey Buster Baldwin, a young patient who lost his battle with Leukaemia in 2014.

Harvey was an inquisitive young patient who always asked what happened to all his blood samples, so he was invited to the pathology laboratory to meet the teams who processed his samples and have his own tour of the laboratory.

Today ‘Harvey’s Gang’ is an international award winning charity, and the Western Trust said the tours locally will help children face their fears, answers questions families or children may have, as well as gain an understanding why taking blood is important.

Upon arrival, children are given a white laboratory coat and a trainee scientist badge, as well as a goody bag. On the tour of the laboratory, families and children will meet the dedicated team processing patient samples.

There will be an opportunity to learn where the blood samples arrive and how they are registered as well as a look at all the equipment and analysers such as centrifuges and microscopes and a look at where all the blood is stored.

Caoimhe Quigley, Biomedical Scientist, said: “It can be quite a stressful and traumatic time for children and their families as they can spend a lot of time waiting for blood results, so opening up the laboratory to them can help them understand what happens in the laboratory and hopefully help understand their conditions a bit more.”

Any child in the community who regularly has blood samples taken or receives blood products can request a ‘Harvey’s Gang’ Tour by emailing [email protected] or telephoning 028 71345171 ext. 213828.