Ruby and Archie enjoy a visit to the laboratories

Heidi Wu, Sue Jeffery and Keith Middlemiss (kneeling) with Ruby and Abby.
Heidi Wu, Sue Jeffery and Keith Middlemiss (kneeling) with Ruby and Abby.

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. 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.

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.

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 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 medication.

Several times over the next few years Ruby had to endure further joint injections under general anaesthetic, 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.

Ruby was joined on her tour of the labs by sister Abby and mum Heidi. Ruby and Abby loved their tour, and took all her goodies and lab coat to school to tell everyone exactly what happens to her blood after it is taken.

Both tours took place with the charity Harvey’s Gang.