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Julia and Francesca Evans-Jones

Francesca joins Harvey’s Gang

Friday March 6, 2015

A young girl with a rare genetic disorder said being shown around the pathology laboratories at Worthing Hospital was ‘just amazing’.

Eight-year-old Francesca Evans-Jones, who lives in Lancing, was diagnosed with Fanconi Anaemia in April 2014.

Since then Francesca has made numerous visits to the children’s Bluefin Ward and has given blood there more than 30 times.

But what happens to the blood samples once they are locked into a capsule and sucked up the pneumatic tube located on the ward?

It is a question Francesca was fascinated to have answered when she was invited on a special tour of the pathology department by staff at the hospital.

Julia and Francesca Evans-Jones
Francesca Evans-Jones and her mum Julia tour the pathology department

“It’s amazing,” said Francesca. “Before I came here I wanted to know about what they did with the blood and seeing all the machines and what they do is just really amazing.”

The pathology team at Worthing Hospital uses state-of-the-art equipment to process more than 4,000 blood samples a day.

Francesca and her mother, Julia Jones, 44 from Lancing, were shown around by chief biomedical scientist Malcolm Robinson, who leads a project called Harvey’s Gang.

Harvey Buster Baldwin was a young patient who also enjoyed a tour of the hospital’s laboratories before tragically losing a 20-month battle with leukaemia last October.

Following his death, biomedical scientists at Worthing Hospital paid tribute to the brave youngster by naming a brand new blood grouping machine after him.

Harvey’s mum Claire Baldwin from Sompting commented how much the tour had meant to Harvey, which prompted the launch of Harvey’s Gang – a project dedicated to his memory.

When Francesca arrived for her tour in February she was presented with a Harvey’s Gang gift bag, as well as a specially made little white coat personalised with her own trainee scientist name badge.

Malcolm led the tour, which was shadowed by the Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transfusion, Ian Trenholm, who was visiting the hospital to find out more about Harvey’s Gang with a view to help roll out the initiative nationwide.

Francesca visited the Haematology, Biochemistry and Blood Transfusion laboratories and finally discovered where the blood samples go when sucked up from the children’s ward.

“My favourite bit was the tube,” she said, after being given the opportunity to send some samples back through the computer-controlled pneumatic tube system.

“When you put the sample in, and type the number it goes straight away to other parts of the hospital. It’s just amazing.

The team at Worthing Hospital have been fantastic today and it just goes to show they really care about the patients

“I’m going to tell my friends about all the bloods I’ve had done and all the machines here that process them,” said Francesca.

The youngster hopes to become a paediatric consultant when older and her mother Julia confirmed how much she had enjoyed the special tour.

“She’s had a wonderful day, absolutely fantastic and really enjoyable. I think her face will be aching this evening from smiling so much!”

Julia added: “We’ve spent a lot of time as a patient, many weeks and weeks and weeks in hospital, but to see this side of it has been a real eye-opener, just fantastic.

“Now I now know exactly where the blood goes after they take it and I am very happy that we are in very safe hands.”

Malcolm said what a delight it was to meet Francesca, who asked some very informed and challenging questions as she was shown around the department.

“She was absolutely fantastic,” he said.  “She had a smile from ear to ear and asked question after question.

“It has been a phenomenal day, and having the NHS Blood and Transplant chief executive, Ian Trenholm, down to see us having a very interested young child and their mum on a tour has just been awesome.”

Mr Trenholm said: “The team at Worthing Hospital have been fantastic today and it just goes to show they really care about the patients at the hospital.

“My teams are working closely with the hospital here in Worthing to see if we can roll out this idea of Harvey’s Gang across the country so that other people can also get the benefit of it.”

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