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Health / Etta joins the gang as laboratory scheme heads to isles

A NATIONAL programme aimed at demystifying NHS laboratory services for children who have regular blood tests has launched in Shetland.

Etta (right) with clinical biochemistry manager Sam Willis. Photos from NHS Shetland

Six year old Etta Hannah, who was diagnosed with a tumour last year, became the first person in Shetland to take part in the programme this morning (1 July).

She received a specially made mini lab coat along with a bag of goodies as she toured the lab service at the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.

Etta was also filmed for TV show Island Medics which is currently recording its third series in the isles.

It is all part of the national scheme Harvey’s Gang, which was started in 2013 in Sussex when six-year-old Harvey Baldwin – who had acute myeloid leukaemia – wanted to know more about the blood samples he had to give.

NHS Shetland’s clinical biochemistry manager Sam Willis said Harvey’s Gang is aimed at making regular and painful blood tests less of a trauma for children.

“Harvey’s Gang is a special group of children because they have had to go through a lot,” she said.

“We will make sure that when each child visits our lab they are treated like a VIP.”

Several more children in Shetland are expected to take part in the programme in the coming weeks.

During the day of their visit, the children are made a ‘trainee biomedical scientist’ and they are shown the laboratory machines before getting to meet the staff.

They are even shown their own blood cells through a microscope, while they are invited to ask questions.

The story of Etta Hannah, meanwhile, came to light last year after her tumour was discovered through an eye check at the Lerwick Specsavers.

A crowdfunding campaign set up by a friend of her parents as Etta got set for 18 months of chemotherapy and numerous trips south raised over £6,500.