Youngsters Get Look Into Work Of Medical Laboratories At The DGRI

Two more youngsters from the region have been given a special behind-the-scenes tour of medical laboratories in Dumfries and Galloway.

Archie McMillan and Ruby Wu both have long-term conditions, and so were invited to take the tour as part of an initiative aimed at helping children understand where samples go, how they are processed and above all why it is important for blood samples to be taken in the first place.


Archie, from Lochmaben, has Crohn’s disease and started displaying symptoms when he was three. As there is a family history of Crohn’s, his parents were concerned.

It wasn’t until he was six in 2015 that Archie was diagnosed.

On two occasions in the last four years Archie has tolerated an eight-week eternal diet – unable to eat any food other than mints, chewing gum and lemonade.

Archie takes regular medication to help manage his illness but earlier in the year was in hospital with a ruptured abscess.

However, Archie has amazing will power and determination and his mum Rachel says he never complains – even when his fatigue, aches and pains stop him from taking part in activities such as football and going to school.

Archie has also worked hard to overcome his phobia of needles. Although a bit squeamish, by the end of his tour of the laboratories at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary with mum Rachel the 11-year-old was able to handle blood and platelet bags.

The initiative has helped Archie so much and it has made him feel excited about coming to hospital as usually his hospital visits are not fun.

He loves showing people where the labs are, too.

More importantly, he now understands the science and logistical side of a blood test and why it is important to get them done.

A spokeswoman for Laboratories said: “I’m so proud of Archie. He overcame his fears and loved all the activities. Always smiling, too.” Ruby Wu, age 7, from Dumfries, developed juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) at 14 months.

It took a lot of investigations over a period of six months to get the full diagnosis. The arthritis is in her left knee joint, and she underwent a joint injection under general anaesthetic at 20 months old.

Unfortunately, about ten months later the arthritis flared up again and she was put on the medication methotrexate (MTX).

Several times over the next few years Ruby had to endure further joint injections under general anaesthetic, injections of MTX and regular blood testing.

Ruby hated getting her blood taken as she said it made her feel hot and sick and was very distressed each time. Psychology was unable to help Ruby either so unfortunately she had to be sedated or asleep each time.

When she was put on liquid MTX it made life a lot easier. Happily, she has finally stopped the MTX but must still have her bloods regularly checked.

Ruby was joined on her tour of the Dumfries and Galloway laboratories by sister Abby and mum Heidi.

Ruby and Abby loved their tour, and Ruby took all her goodies and lab coat to school to tell everyone exactly what happens to her blood after it is taken.

Mum Heidi said: “Ruby doesn’t feel scared anymore so it’s made a massive difference!”

Both tours took place under the philosophy of the charity Harvey’s Gang.