Human Medicine:

Leukaemia patient goes behind the scenes at The Christie Pathology Partnership

A tour of the laboratory for a VIP (very important patient).

As part of National Biomedical Science Day, the Christie Pathology Partnership (CPP), based at The Christie in Manchester, opened its doors and gave a special patient with a specific interest the chance to see behind the scenes in a pathology lab.

Former Altrincham Grammar School pupil Tom Hunt was looking forward to his gap year last September when he had to radically change his plans on being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

ALL is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells, called lymphocytes, in the bone marrow. Adults and children are susceptible to getting it, but it is most often diagnosed in younger people and chemotherapy is the main treatment.

Tom underwent nine months of intense treatment successfully battling his illness and this week he toured the laboratory and met the staff responsible for processing his many blood and tissue tests.

Tom explains: “During my treatment I’ve undergone hundreds of blood tests, up to four times a week, at The Christie. Like every other patient, I had no idea how many people were involved and what goes on behind the scenes. I’d wait an hour or so for results from the lab not realising the clinicians needed the results and advice from the lab before I could go ahead with that particular round of chemotherapy. If my haemoglobin was low, I was given more blood. If my platelets were low I’d get more. It’s fascinating seeing who makes these decisions and what samples of blood cells look like under a microscope.

The tour showed me the enormous scale of the operation and how many hundreds of people are involved with processing tests. I never realised how much doctors and clinicians rely on advice and test results before giving treatment.”

In September Tom will be studying Medicine at The University of Manchester and we wish him all the luck with his studies.

Tahmina Hussain, Biomedical Scientist Team Manager showed Tom around the lab. She explains: “It’s lovely to meet the patient behind the samples we are processing. It is extremely satisfying work and uses all the very latest technologies, working methods and diagnostic techniques to ultimately deliver better outcomes for our patients. The Christie is Europe’s largest single-site cancer centre and leads the field in cancer detection and treatment and. Knowing our work is changing the lives of patients on a daily basis makes CPP a wonderful place to work.”

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