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Caitlin visits our laboratory medicine team at William Harvey Hospital

Harvey’s Gang comes to East Kent Hospitals

A scheme offering children the chance to explore the pathology laboratories of the hospitals where they are being treated has been launched at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

The initiative called ‘Harvey’s Gang’ recently offered thirteen year old Caitlin Kydd the opportunity to see what happens to her blood samples at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford and be inaugurated as an honorary biomedical scientist; becoming the first member of the scheme outside of Worthing Hospital where it originated.

Over the past six years Caitlin has twice fought off an aggressive form of bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma, which had caused an eighteen centimetre long tumour to grow in her femur.

Her treatment included fourteen cycles of intensive chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital and a limb-salvage operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

This involved removing the tumour, Caitlin's femur, hip and one of her quad muscles and replacing the femur with a motorised titanium prosthesis, which can be extended non-invasively as she grows.

After spending three years in remission, it was found that the cancer had returned as a fourteen centimetre tumour in her humerus. A further life-saving limb-salvage operation was needed to remove the tumour, along with her humerus, elbow and arm muscle, which was replaced with a titanium prosthesis.

It was a wonderful experience for the staff in the laboratory to get to meet one of the patients they help treat and showcase their work.

Angela Green, Blood Transfusion Coordinator for East Kent Hospitals 

Aged eleven Caitlin received more intensive chemotherapy, with longer stays in Padua Ward at the William Harvey Hospital, which she described as “a second home.”

On average Caitlin would have around fifteen blood tests each month, in total receiving fifty-four units of blood and platelets, all provided by the blood transfusion laboratory. She also had many other blood and swab samples taken.

Her curiosity left her wondering what actually happened to the blood samples and swabs and fuelled a desire to visit the labs. Having her sights set on being a research scientist, she knew a tour of the labs would give her a fantastic insight into the world of medical science.

Speaking about her recent laboratory tour at the William Harvey Hospital, she said: "I found the whole tour fascinating. It also gave me an opportunity to say thank you to the many people that work unseen in the labs, who each played a part in saving my life."

Angela Green, Blood Transfusion Coordinator for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were really proud to be able to show Caitlin around our departments.

“There is a whole team of dedicated professionals working hard to provide clinical staff with the diagnostic results they need to treat those they care for. It was a wonderful experience for the staff in the laboratory to get to meet one of the patients they help treat and showcase their work.

“We are looking forward to welcoming more patients and their families to our departments as part of East Kent Hospital’s Harvey’s Gang."

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