A project inspired by an eight-year-old boy from Sompting who suffered with leukaemia is going global.
Harvey’s Gang, which started at Worthing Hospital, invites children with cancer and serious illnesses to become trainee biomedical scientists for the day and tour pathology laboratories with their families.
The project is now being rolled out in NHS hospitals in London, Kent, and Hampshire and is spreading to others in Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Sheffield, Birmingham and Newcastle in 2016. It is also heading to Australia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
Harvey’s Gang was launched in November 2014 in memory of eight-year-old Harvey Buster Baldwin, a pupil at Sompting Village Primary School.
Following his 20-month battle with leukaemia, Harvey died on October 6.
“We are totally astounded by how many people have put their hearts, minds and positivity into Harvey’s Gang for the benefit of other children,” said Harvey’s mum, Claire Baldwin.
“Harvey would be really chuffed and I think very proud to have left such a wonderful legacy. It’s simply wonderful.”
Harvey received treatment for leukaemia at Worthing Hospital for 18 months. During his stay on the children’s ward he asked what happened to all his blood samples.
Staff arranged for him to visit to the pathology laboratories where he was given his own white coat, a trainee biomedical scientist badge and shown how to process his own blood.
Chief biomedical scientist, Malcolm Robinson, said: “It was a real honour to host Harvey for a few hours as he was so interested in all the equipment and how we analyse and process blood samples.
“However, it was only when they showed a picture of him and me on that special day at his funeral a few months later that I realised just how much the experience had meant to him and his family.
“Within a week we had named a new blood grouping machine in his memory and Harvey’s Gang laboratory tours for sick children was born.”
Biomedical scientists at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have hosted 21 visits for sick children at Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital.
In September, Harvey’s Gang received national recognition at the NHS Expo 2015 where it was awarded the Kate Granger Team Award for Compassionate Care.
King’s College Hospital in London welcomed their first Harvey’s Gang visitor on November 17, Daniel Ngegba, 7 from Peckham.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to be a scientist, it’s my dream and it came true for the first time ever.”
Daniel, who has sickle cell anaemia has received nearly 50 blood transfusions and was fascinated to watch how the blood units for his transfusions are selected.
Hospitals from all around the world will soon be able to apply for Harvey’s Gang boxes, which contain white lab coats for the children, certificates and goodie packs including Harvey’s Gang branded LEGO, picture books and DVDs, all funded by charitable donations and corporate sponsorship.
To donate to the project visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/malcolm-robinson-2
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