Harvey’s Gang embraced by NHS
Children in hospitals around the country are receiving VIP treatment thanks to an award-winning project which first started at Worthing Hospital.
Harvey’s Gang invites youngsters with cancer and other serious illnesses to become trainee biomedical scientists for the day and tour pathology laboratories with their families.
The project is now taking place in NHS hospitals in London, Kent, and Hampshire and is spreading to others in Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Sheffield, Birmingham and Newcastle in the New Year.
Harvey’s Gang was launched in November 2014 in memory of eight-year-old Harvey Buster Baldwin, from Sompting, West Sussex.
We all had a tear in our eyes when we received Daniel’s thank-you note
“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 and while staying on the children’s ward he asked what happened to all his blood samples.
Staff arranged for a special 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.”
Over the past year 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 Chichester.
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.
The project is now spreading to NHS hospitals across the country and thanks to the support of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics it also heading to Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates and into the EU.
King’s College Hospital in London welcomed their first Harvey’s Gang visitor on 17 November, seven-year-old Daniel Ngegba, from Peckham.
Daniel, who has sickle cell anaemia, has received nearly 50 blood transfusions in his short life and was fascinated to watch how the blood units for his transfusions are selected.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to be a scientist, it’s my dream and it came true for the first time ever.”
The visits also make a huge difference to the scientific support staff working in hospitals who do not usually see patients while carrying out their critical work.
Barbara Umlauft, Quality Manager in the King’s Blood Transfusion Laboratory, said: “We all had a tear in our eyes when we received Daniel’s thank-you note – it was a humbling reminder of why our job is important.”
Hospitals from all around the world will soon be able to apply for ‘Harvey’s Gang in a box’, containing mini 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.
If you would like to donate and help the project raise £900 please visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/malcolm-robinson-2