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Hospital laboratory named in memory of much-loved Blood Bikes volunteer

A hospital laboratory has been named in memory of a much-loved Blood Bikes charity volunteer who died after a road incident.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) officially named its blood sciences laboratory after Russell Curwen from Endmoor near Kendal on Friday, May 31.

The ‘Russell Curwen Blood Sciences Laboratory’ naming event at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) was a deeply moving experience for Russell’s parents, Ken and Pat Curwen and their loved ones. It was also an emotional and special day for Russell’s friends from the Blood Bikes charity and his former colleagues at UHMBT.

Russell’s sister, Susan Fiddler, his brother Philip Curwen, Blood Bikes charity representatives, UHMBT’s Chief Executive, former colleagues, employees of UHMBT and numerous other friends and family members paid tribute to Russell on the day.

Everyone agreed it was a fitting tribute for the new laboratory to be named in memory of Russell.

Russell, 49, who was delivering blood on the night of the incident on Caton Road in Lancaster, died on May 5, 2018. Members of the Trust’s Pathology team and the Trust’s executive board decided to name the blood sciences laboratory in Russell’s memory.

Janet Eglin, Technical Services Manager in Biochemistry for UHMBT, said: “It is always heart-breaking to lose a member of your family but especially so when they are young and full of life and when lost to us in such tragic circumstances.

“Russell touched the lives of many people during his life and this included the staff in the Pathology laboratories at Westmorland General Hospital, Furness General Hospital and here at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

“He was a familiar figure in the Pathology departments across the Trust but especially to our Blood Sciences and Pathology reception teams.

“I asked our teams to tell me what Russell meant to them; this was their response:

“Russell was a big part of our daily life and we all miss him terribly. Every time he appeared in our laboratories Russell brought some sunshine into our lives.

“He had a big personality and always had a smile to share with us all.

“Russ had such an infectious laugh and a great sense of humour, he always took time to ask us how we were and to share a joke or two before zipping off doing what he loved and saving lives.

“We can’t thank the Blood Bikers enough. They come through for us rain or shine, day or night and are the true unsung heroes of the NHS.

“We miss Russ every day and we are so happy that the new laboratory is being named in his honour.

“Russell was absolutely dedicated and at all times professional in his attitude to his regular work as a Medical Support UK driver and to his voluntary work with the North West Blood Bikes charity, he loved his job and knew how important it was to patient care.

“Russell was part of our Pathology family and we will always remember and miss him.”

The Blood Sciences Laboratory at the RLI provides Biochemistry, Haematology and Transfusion services to the local population of North Lancashire and South Cumbria as well as services to other parts of the country. More than three million test results are carried out each year at this new laboratory.

The majority of the samples that the laboratory receives for analysis are blood samples but the lab also tests urine and other biological samples to help diagnose and monitor illnesses in patients from local hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries. Test results are often required urgently and the laboratory is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

This new laboratory was required to facilitate the development of an improved, safer and more efficient blood science service, providing higher quality, faster results to improve patient care.

Janet added: “We have replaced most of our analysers and taken advantage of automated tracking and electronic requesting to reduce error and turn-around time and to improve quality.

“Our automated Biochemistry track has the capacity to produce up to 4,800 test results per hour and our new Haematology track can produce up to 300 test results per hour.

“We are planning further improvements in the near future to optimise the service still further.”

A plaque was unveiled by Pat and Ken and guests shared their memories of Russell at the hospital’s Education Centre.

Pat and Ken said they were deeply touched by the huge number of people who attended the event and spoke so warmly about Russell.

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