Young patient gets behind the scenes lab tour at Romford hospital

Tumelo Sibanda, 12, visits Queen's Hospital's pathology lab

Tumelo Sibanda, 12, visits Queen's Hospital's pathology lab - Credit: Archant

Rows of tiny lab coats are hanging outside Queen’s Hospital’s pathology lab ready for young patients to discover how their blood is examined.

Tumelo Sibanda, 12, visits Queen's Hospital's pathology lab

Tumelo Sibanda, 12, visits Queen's Hospital's pathology lab - Credit: Archant

The first visitor was Tumelo Sibanda who has had regular blood transfusions since he was diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anaemia, a rare disorder of the bone marrow, as a baby.

Tumelo, of Lucerne Way, Harold Hill, had the chance to go behind the scenes with pathology lab staff and discover what happens to his blood in preparation for the transfusions, which top up his red blood cells.

The Drapers’ Academy student who dreams of being a footballer when he grows up said: “It was good, I liked being behind the scenes and the best bit was when I got to look through the microscope.”

Tumelo’s mum Senzile, who has three other young children, took him to A&E as a baby because he was losing weight and not feeding properly.


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She said: “I was very worried. He was diagnosed and started having monthly blood transfusions.

“It was a very stressful time, they tried him on steroids but they didn’t work. Now he’s like any other child, and he loves playing football.

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“He was really looking forward to being shown around the lab and kept reminding me when it was getting closer so I wouldn’t forget.”

The visit was also a rewarding experience for lab staff at the hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford, who have seen Tumelo’s name on blood samples for more than 11 years.

Consultant biochemist Zahra Khatami said: “The visit went really well, it was enjoyed and appreciated by the staff as well as Tumelo.

“Some of the staff said meeting Tumelo in person made a real difference, as it is a reminder why we’re behind the scenes doing what we do.

“It was a real team effort to make this happen, and as a mother and grandmother myself, it was lovely to see how much it meant to Tumelo and his family.”

Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital, organised the visit after Zahra heard about a similar scheme being run by charity Harvey’s Gang. More visits to the lab are being planned.

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