A moving tribute to a boy from Lancing who died from a brain tumour has ensured his legacy lives on at Worthing Hospital.
The parents and sister of Jack Bray, a 12-year-old who passed away on May 24, 2014, officially named a new blood grouping machine ‘Jack’ last Monday (January 14), in memory of their son and brother.
The blood analyser sits next to another machine in the pathology department named ‘Harvey’, in memory of Jack’s friend Harvey Buster Baldwin, from Sompting. Harvey passed away aged eight in 2014 after a battle with cancer.
Jack and Harvey were among the first children to receive one of the tours of hospital laboratories which now take place in more than 80 NHS hospitals, thanks to the charity Harvey’s Gang, founded in memory of Harvey.
Jack’s mum, Andrina Bray, said: “Jack and Harvey were really good friends while they were in hospital and it is a lovely touch to have the two machines named after them side-by-side.”
His dad, Dan Bray, added: “It is nice of the hospital to honour Jack and keep him close to his friend. Jack brought a lot of joy to everyone he met.”
At the age of ten, Jack was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour and even during intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions that followed, Jack retained his curiosity.
Much like his friend Harvey, he wanted to know what happened to the many blood samples doctors took once they shot down a vacuum tube that connects the children’s ward to the pathology laboratories.
Play assistant Hayley Edwards contacted her pathology colleagues and helped organise a tour of the lab where Jack was given a first-hand look at how blood samples are processed.
“The tour was amazing and he loved it,” said his mum. “Jack was so interested in what was going on, and what stood out for us, and for him, was that the platelets on show in the lab were actually his own. He spent forever just looking at them.
“He then went back to the ward and he drew the lab team a big poster of the tubes of blood and other things that he had seen and we posted it down their tube system.”
Retired biomedical scientist, Leigh Browning, who showed Jack around the laboratory, said: “I was really humbled by him because despite his illness, he just took it in his stride, was incredibly brave and was really bubbly and happy.
“He was asking lots of questions and was really interested in why it takes the time it does to process blood. He was just fascinated by it all.”
Over the years, Harvey’s Gang has expanded internationally and across the UK to help hundreds of young patients around the world understand why they need to provide blood samples.
The charity helps pathology departments host tours for children with long-term conditions, enabling the young patients to follow their blood sample’s journey and meet the biomedical scientists caring for them in hospital laboratories.
Harvey’s Gang was founded by Malcolm Robinson, chief biomedical scientist at Worthing Hospital. Malcolm had personally shown Harvey around the labs before he lost his battle with cancer in 2014.
Now aged 60, Malcolm retired from the NHS this month to focus full-time on the work of the charity.
“When I launched Harvey’s Gang I promised Jack’s parents that one day I would reunite the two friends, in memory, Jack and Harvey,” he said.
“In my last week, before retirement, it has filled me with joy that I could live up to that promise to Andrina and Dan.”
The hospital’s two blood grouping machines, ‘Harvey’ and ‘Jack’, now sit side-by-side in dedication to the two friends who made such an impression on staff at Worthing Hospital.
For more information, visit Malcolm’s blog: http://harveysgang.blogspot.com/
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