Kathy Baker obituary

A Samaritans volunteer for nearly 50 years, Kathy Baker, who has died aged 70, gave so much of her time to so many. But her enduring legacy will be the groundbreaking Samaritans Listener scheme which she founded in HMP Swansea in 1991 after a 15-year-old boy hanged himself in the prison.

The Listener scheme, whereby prisoners are trained to provide a patient and compassionate ear for fellow prisoners in distress, is one of the most innovative ventures introduced to the UK prison system and has saved countless lives. The governor of Swansea at the time, Jim Heyes, was a man of foresight who had been deeply affected by the death of the youngster and welcomed the Samaritans into his prison. He worked closely with Kathy to establish the Listeners as an integral part of his prison regime. Between them they created “a living organism”, as one governor described it, which has spread so that now every prison in the country is obliged to have such a scheme and to have a relationship with the Samaritans as part of their key performance indicators.

I first met Kathy when I was an early-years life prisoner. As deputy chair of Samaritans, she visited HMP Nottingham in 1992 to meet the new group of Listeners, of whom I was one. We were nervous, but she put us at ease and persuaded us that our voluntary roles would save lives. Fourteen years later and two years after my release, I met her again when I was asked to present her with the 2006 Perrie award, granted each year to the person who has done most to promote an understanding of the work of the Prison Service in England and Wales.

In 1994 Kathy was appointed MBE for services to prisoner welfare. As well as being a part of the service’s Safer Custody Group from the early 1990s, she was the suicide prevention adviser to high-security prisons from 2001 until 2007.

Born in Northwood, Middlesex, Kathy was the daughter of Frances (nee Weir) and Allan Biggar, who met during the second world war – her mother was in the Waaf, her father in the RAF. After the war, Frances became a full-time mother to Kathy and her sister Janet. Allan worked in the family publishing business, before going into journalism, writing for the Sporting Life and the annual Bloodstock Review.

Kathy was educated at Northwood college for girls. At 18 she went on an exchange trip to live with a French family for six months and during this time developed an interest in photography. On her return, she enrolled at Ealing School of Art, studying and qualifying in the subject and planning a photography career, which took her into the research department of Unilever. Soon afterwards she joined her local branch of Samaritans and became a stalwart of the Hillingdon branch throughout the 70s and 80s.

In the mid-70s Kathy was a co-founder of the festival branch – outreach tents at music festivals such as Knebworth and Reading – she and her colleagues arguing that the Samaritans were then seen as “too white and too middle-class” and that they needed to reach out to more diverse and younger people. Her colleague Phil Howes, another festival branch founder, remembered that “Kathy was like a mother hen and we were the chicks all running after her.”

Her Samaritan work at Hillingdon brought Kathy into contact with many prison leavers suffering mental health problems and other vulnerabilities and it was this experience that made her decide to change careers and join the Probation Service at Feltham in 1973. Several years later she became the prison probation officer in HMP Wandsworth. There she recruited prisoners who were coping well to “keep an eye” on those who were obviously not, and this was the starting point of what eventually became the Listeners. In 1991 Kathy was given the pivotal role of liaising between the Prison Service and Samaritans, travelling around the country persuading prison governors of the merits of the scheme.

Kathy met her future husband, Bill Baker, in the early 80s when he was a computer programmer for ICI and a fellow Samaritan. Bill also later became a probation officer and the couple were married in 2001, bringing Kathy three stepchildren. Following their retirement in 2007, Kathy and Bill decided to go on a world sightseeing trip which was cut short when Bill was taken ill and then diagnosed with cancer. Kathy nursed Bill until his death in 2009.

Kathy, now a Samaritan at the central London branch, kept up her involvement with the Listener scheme and other initiatives to reduce suicide in prison, even after she, too, was diagnosed with cancer early in 2016.

In 2017, the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) undertook a collaboration with the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, Inside Time, National Prison Radio and Samaritans to reach out to those in custody, seeking their ideas for keeping people safe in prison. They received more than 200 detailed letters from prisoners, one of whom wrote: “I’m just one of many who have been saved by the Listeners.” Kathy responded personally to every letter.

“Through her professionalism and humanity, Kathy not only saved countless lives, she enabled people in prison to see that they too could save lives and help fellow prisoners in extreme distress,’” said Juliet Lyon, chair of the IAP.

“She had presence,” said Berny, a former long-term prisoner and Listener who after her release became a close friend of Kathy. “Wherever Kathy was, there was a sense of incredible kindness, love and acceptance.”

Kathy rarely spoke about why she did what she did, although she once said: “Enabling people to talk about how they feel is a real gift.” People from all walks of life, and in particular people in custody, will be eternally grateful that she shared that gift.

She is survived by her sister and her mother.

Kathy Mabel Baker, probation officer and Samaritan, born 10 June 1947; died 7 June 2018

Kathy Baker obituary

A Samaritans volunteer for nearly 50 years, Kathy Baker, who has died aged 70, gave so much of her time to so many. But her enduring legacy will be the groundbreaking Samaritans Listener scheme which she founded in HMP Swansea in 1991 after a 15-year-old boy hanged himself in the prison.

The Listener scheme, whereby prisoners are trained to provide a patient and compassionate ear for fellow prisoners in distress, is one of the most innovative ventures introduced to the UK prison system and has saved countless lives. The governor of Swansea at the time, Jim Heyes, was a man of foresight who had been deeply affected by the death of the youngster and welcomed the Samaritans into his prison. He worked closely with Kathy to establish the Listeners as an integral part of his prison regime. Between them they created “a living organism”, as one governor described it, which has spread so that now every prison in the country is obliged to have such a scheme and to have a relationship with the Samaritans as part of their key performance indicators.

I first met Kathy when I was an early-years life prisoner. As deputy chair of Samaritans, she visited HMP Nottingham in 1992 to meet the new group of Listeners, of whom I was one. We were nervous, but she put us at ease and persuaded us that our voluntary roles would save lives. Fourteen years later and two years after my release, I met her again when I was asked to present her with the 2006 Perrie award, granted each year to the person who has done most to promote an understanding of the work of the Prison Service in England and Wales.

In 1994 Kathy was appointed MBE for services to prisoner welfare. As well as being a part of the service’s Safer Custody Group from the early 1990s, she was the suicide prevention adviser to high-security prisons from 2001 until 2007.

Born in Northwood, Middlesex, Kathy was the daughter of Frances (nee Weir) and Allan Biggar, who met during the second world war – her mother was in the Waaf, her father in the RAF. After the war, Frances became a full-time mother to Kathy and her sister Janet. Allan worked in the family publishing business, before going into journalism, writing for the Sporting Life and the annual Bloodstock Review.

Kathy was educated at Northwood college for girls. At 18 she went on an exchange trip to live with a French family for six months and during this time developed an interest in photography. On her return, she enrolled at Ealing School of Art, studying and qualifying in the subject and planning a photography career, which took her into the research department of Unilever. Soon afterwards she joined her local branch of Samaritans and became a stalwart of the Hillingdon branch throughout the 70s and 80s.

In the mid-70s Kathy was a co-founder of the festival branch – outreach tents at music festivals such as Knebworth and Reading – she and her colleagues arguing that the Samaritans were then seen as “too white and too middle-class” and that they needed to reach out to more diverse and younger people. Her colleague Phil Howes, another festival branch founder, remembered that “Kathy was like a mother hen and we were the chicks all running after her.”

Her Samaritan work at Hillingdon brought Kathy into contact with many prison leavers suffering mental health problems and other vulnerabilities and it was this experience that made her decide to change careers and join the Probation Service at Feltham in 1973. Several years later she became the prison probation officer in HMP Wandsworth. There she recruited prisoners who were coping well to “keep an eye” on those who were obviously not, and this was the starting point of what eventually became the Listeners. In 1991 Kathy was given the pivotal role of liaising between the Prison Service and Samaritans, travelling around the country persuading prison governors of the merits of the scheme.

Kathy met her future husband, Bill Baker, in the early 80s when he was a computer programmer for ICI and a fellow Samaritan. Bill also later became a probation officer and the couple were married in 2001, bringing Kathy three stepchildren. Following their retirement in 2007, Kathy and Bill decided to go on a world sightseeing trip which was cut short when Bill was taken ill and then diagnosed with cancer. Kathy nursed Bill until his death in 2009.

Kathy, now a Samaritan at the central London branch, kept up her involvement with the Listener scheme and other initiatives to reduce suicide in prison, even after she, too, was diagnosed with cancer early in 2016.

In 2017, the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) undertook a collaboration with the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, Inside Time, National Prison Radio and Samaritans to reach out to those in custody, seeking their ideas for keeping people safe in prison. They received more than 200 detailed letters from prisoners, one of whom wrote: “I’m just one of many who have been saved by the Listeners.” Kathy responded personally to every letter.

“Through her professionalism and humanity, Kathy not only saved countless lives, she enabled people in prison to see that they too could save lives and help fellow prisoners in extreme distress,’” said Juliet Lyon, chair of the IAP.

“She had presence,” said Berny, a former long-term prisoner and Listener who after her release became a close friend of Kathy. “Wherever Kathy was, there was a sense of incredible kindness, love and acceptance.”

Kathy rarely spoke about why she did what she did, although she once said: “Enabling people to talk about how they feel is a real gift.” People from all walks of life, and in particular people in custody, will be eternally grateful that she shared that gift.

She is survived by her sister and her mother.

Kathy Mabel Baker, probation officer and Samaritan, born 10 June 1947; died 7 June 2018

Alzheimer’s link to herpes virus in brain, say scientists

The presence of viruses in the brain has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease in research that challenges conventional theories about the onset of dementia.

The results, based on tests of brain tissue from nearly 1,000 people, found that two strains of herpes virus were far more abundant in the brains of those with early-stage Alzheimer’s than in healthy controls. However, scientists are divided on whether viruses are likely to be an active trigger, or whether the brains of people already on the path towards Alzheimer’s are simply more vulnerable to infection.

“The viral genomes were detectable in about 30% of Alzheimer’s brains and virtually undetectable in the control group,” said Sam Gandy, professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and a co-author of the study.

The study also suggested that the presence of the herpes viruses in the brain could influence or control the activity of various genes linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

The scientists did not set out to look for a link between viruses and dementia. Instead they were hoping to pinpoint genes that were unusually active in the brains of people with the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s. But when they studied brain tissue, comparing people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and healthy controls, the most striking differences in gene activity were not found in human genes, but in genes belonging to two herpes virus strains, HHV6A and HHV7. And the abundance of the viruses correlated with clinical dementia scores of the donors.

“We didn’t go looking for viruses, but viruses sort of screamed out at us,” said Ben Readhead, assistant professor at Arizona State University-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center and lead author.

Gandy said the team were initially “surprised and sceptical” about the results, based on brain tissue from the Mount Sinai Brain bank, and so repeated the study using two further brain banks – in total 622 brains with signs of Alzheimer’s and 322 healthy control brains – and detected the very same genes. “We’ve tried to be conservative in our interpretation and replicated the results in three different brain banks, but we have to at least recognise that these diseased brains are carrying these viral genomes,” he added.

The scientists could not prove whether viruses actively contribute to the onset of disease, but they discovered a plausible mechanism for how this could happen. Some of the herpes genes were found to be boosting the activity of several known Alzheimer’s genes.

David Reynolds, chief scientific officer of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said this element was significant. “Previous studies have suggested that viruses might be linked with Alzheimer’s, but this detailed analysis of human brain tissue takes this research further, indicating a relationship between the viruses and the activity of genes involved in Alzheimer’s, as well as brain changes, molecular signals, and symptoms associated with the disease,” he said.

However, others were more sceptical. Prof John Hardy, a geneticist at University College London, said: “There are some families with mutations in specific genes who always get this disease. It’s difficult to square that with a viral aetiology. I’d urge an extremely cautious interpretation of these results.”

The viruses highlighted are not the same as those that cause cold sores, but much more common forms of herpes that nearly everyone carries and which don’t typically cause any problems. The study in no way suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is contagious or can be passed from person to person like a virus – or that having cold sores increases a person’s risk of dementia.

There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in Britain, and the number is projected to rise to a million by 2025 and 2 million by 2050. But despite hundreds of drug trials during the past decade, an effective treatment has not yet emerged.

“While these findings do potentially open the door for new treatment options to explore in a disease where we’ve had hundreds of failed trials, they don’t change anything that we know about the risk and susceptibility of Alzheimer’s disease or our ability to treat it today,” said Gandy.

Pathologists like me save lives daily. Yet so few people know what we do

Anyone who watched BBC2’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Hospital might have heard of “the lab”. I am one of many who work there – and as a pathologist I often feel, as many of my lab colleagues do, like a forgotten or unknown entity.

There are nearly 20 disciplines of pathology – and that number is growing – and 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS involve pathology and biomedical science. The Royal College of Pathologists’ annual report [pdf] tells us that more than a billion tests are carried out annually – and NHS England says the number of pathology tests [pdf] equates to 14 for each person in England and Wales.

Sound impressive? Then why are we seen as back office staff by other professionals, with nobody fully understanding what we do? People often assume I deal with dead bodies when I tell them I work in a pathology lab. Postmortem pathologists account for about 1% of the pathology workforce.

My colleagues in the lab issue blood products to the scene of a car accident, and carry out screening tests to make sure a newborn baby doesn’t have a condition that would otherwise not get diagnosed until it is too late. They receive tissue from colons or breasts removed during surgery to see if a surgeon has fully got rid of a tumour; they assist in postmortems so that they might answer some of the questions a family may have – and help to ease their pain.

Pathologists and biomedical scientists also see what antibiotic would work best for you to help tackle antimicrobial resistance; they investigate hereditary disease so that any future generations might avoid the same illness. This is just a small insight into what we provide as a service.

Just because we’re not patient-facing, don’t be under any illusion that we care about them any less. On a number of occasions I’ve left work in tears, trying to get it all out of my system before going home to my family. Sometimes I feel it’s unfair that we know a patient’s diagnosis before they do, because we either see the results from the analyser or produce reports and these get discussed by healthcare professionals in order to approach the patient with treatment or management options.

I know that there’s no way of fixing this. However, it still doesn’t feel just or right. Many of us in the NHS spend much of our day feeling guilty: guilty that we can’t do more, guilty that we’re healthy and the patients we care for aren’t – and guilty because in order to care for patients we miss out on our own family time.

However, we still spend more of our time helping to deliver good news rather than bad. I remember a case from when I was on rotation in a blood bank many years ago. Doctors and porters were constantly coming up to the department for blood products, because as soon as any blood went into the patient being treated, it was just as quickly coming back out because their injuries were so severe.

The patient made what can only be described as a miraculous recovery. The blood bank and Welsh Blood Service played a huge part – yet that patient, and their family, will probably be unaware of this.

Another great part of my job is when we get a request for an urgent result or report and we work hard together to deliver the results – or when we find out which specific cancer someone has, so that patient can start their treatment immediately. It’s great being part of something that can make such a big difference to people’s lives.

I’m not demoralised and fed up – quite the opposite, in fact. I just want to highlight the variety of work we do and how it impacts on patient care. We are pathologists, biomedical scientists, associate practitioners, medical lab assistants and admin and clerical staff. We play a vital role in not just assisting in diagnosis, but also advising on the treatment and management of patients.

Pathology work goes on day and night, every day of the year. I feel so fortunate to have found a career I have fallen in love with – even if bits of it are gory.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

Pathologists like me save lives daily. Yet so few people know what we do

Anyone who watched BBC2’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Hospital might have heard of “the lab”. I am one of many who work there – and as a pathologist I often feel, as many of my lab colleagues do, like a forgotten or unknown entity.

There are nearly 20 disciplines of pathology – and that number is growing – and 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS involve pathology and biomedical science. The Royal College of Pathologists’ annual report [pdf] tells us that more than a billion tests are carried out annually – and NHS England says the number of pathology tests [pdf] equates to 14 for each person in England and Wales.

Sound impressive? Then why are we seen as back office staff by other professionals, with nobody fully understanding what we do? People often assume I deal with dead bodies when I tell them I work in a pathology lab. Postmortem pathologists account for about 1% of the pathology workforce.

My colleagues in the lab issue blood products to the scene of a car accident, and carry out screening tests to make sure a newborn baby doesn’t have a condition that would otherwise not get diagnosed until it is too late. They receive tissue from colons or breasts removed during surgery to see if a surgeon has fully got rid of a tumour; they assist in postmortems so that they might answer some of the questions a family may have – and help to ease their pain.

Pathologists and biomedical scientists also see what antibiotic would work best for you to help tackle antimicrobial resistance; they investigate hereditary disease so that any future generations might avoid the same illness. This is just a small insight into what we provide as a service.

Just because we’re not patient-facing, don’t be under any illusion that we care about them any less. On a number of occasions I’ve left work in tears, trying to get it all out of my system before going home to my family. Sometimes I feel it’s unfair that we know a patient’s diagnosis before they do, because we either see the results from the analyser or produce reports and these get discussed by healthcare professionals in order to approach the patient with treatment or management options.

I know that there’s no way of fixing this. However, it still doesn’t feel just or right. Many of us in the NHS spend much of our day feeling guilty: guilty that we can’t do more, guilty that we’re healthy and the patients we care for aren’t – and guilty because in order to care for patients we miss out on our own family time.

However, we still spend more of our time helping to deliver good news rather than bad. I remember a case from when I was on rotation in a blood bank many years ago. Doctors and porters were constantly coming up to the department for blood products, because as soon as any blood went into the patient being treated, it was just as quickly coming back out because their injuries were so severe.

The patient made what can only be described as a miraculous recovery. The blood bank and Welsh Blood Service played a huge part – yet that patient, and their family, will probably be unaware of this.

Another great part of my job is when we get a request for an urgent result or report and we work hard together to deliver the results – or when we find out which specific cancer someone has, so that patient can start their treatment immediately. It’s great being part of something that can make such a big difference to people’s lives.

I’m not demoralised and fed up – quite the opposite, in fact. I just want to highlight the variety of work we do and how it impacts on patient care. We are pathologists, biomedical scientists, associate practitioners, medical lab assistants and admin and clerical staff. We play a vital role in not just assisting in diagnosis, but also advising on the treatment and management of patients.

Pathology work goes on day and night, every day of the year. I feel so fortunate to have found a career I have fallen in love with – even if bits of it are gory.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

Pathologists like me save lives daily. Yet so few people know what we do

Anyone who watched BBC2’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Hospital might have heard of “the lab”. I am one of many who work there – and as a pathologist I often feel, as many of my lab colleagues do, like a forgotten or unknown entity.

There are nearly 20 disciplines of pathology – and that number is growing – and 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS involve pathology and biomedical science. The Royal College of Pathologists’ annual report [pdf] tells us that more than a billion tests are carried out annually – and NHS England says the number of pathology tests [pdf] equates to 14 for each person in England and Wales.

Sound impressive? Then why are we seen as back office staff by other professionals, with nobody fully understanding what we do? People often assume I deal with dead bodies when I tell them I work in a pathology lab. Postmortem pathologists account for about 1% of the pathology workforce.

My colleagues in the lab issue blood products to the scene of a car accident, and carry out screening tests to make sure a newborn baby doesn’t have a condition that would otherwise not get diagnosed until it is too late. They receive tissue from colons or breasts removed during surgery to see if a surgeon has fully got rid of a tumour; they assist in postmortems so that they might answer some of the questions a family may have – and help to ease their pain.

Pathologists and biomedical scientists also see what antibiotic would work best for you to help tackle antimicrobial resistance; they investigate hereditary disease so that any future generations might avoid the same illness. This is just a small insight into what we provide as a service.

Just because we’re not patient-facing, don’t be under any illusion that we care about them any less. On a number of occasions I’ve left work in tears, trying to get it all out of my system before going home to my family. Sometimes I feel it’s unfair that we know a patient’s diagnosis before they do, because we either see the results from the analyser or produce reports and these get discussed by healthcare professionals in order to approach the patient with treatment or management options.

I know that there’s no way of fixing this. However, it still doesn’t feel just or right. Many of us in the NHS spend much of our day feeling guilty: guilty that we can’t do more, guilty that we’re healthy and the patients we care for aren’t – and guilty because in order to care for patients we miss out on our own family time.

However, we still spend more of our time helping to deliver good news rather than bad. I remember a case from when I was on rotation in a blood bank many years ago. Doctors and porters were constantly coming up to the department for blood products, because as soon as any blood went into the patient being treated, it was just as quickly coming back out because their injuries were so severe.

The patient made what can only be described as a miraculous recovery. The blood bank and Welsh Blood Service played a huge part – yet that patient, and their family, will probably be unaware of this.

Another great part of my job is when we get a request for an urgent result or report and we work hard together to deliver the results – or when we find out which specific cancer someone has, so that patient can start their treatment immediately. It’s great being part of something that can make such a big difference to people’s lives.

I’m not demoralised and fed up – quite the opposite, in fact. I just want to highlight the variety of work we do and how it impacts on patient care. We are pathologists, biomedical scientists, associate practitioners, medical lab assistants and admin and clerical staff. We play a vital role in not just assisting in diagnosis, but also advising on the treatment and management of patients.

Pathology work goes on day and night, every day of the year. I feel so fortunate to have found a career I have fallen in love with – even if bits of it are gory.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

Pathologists like me save lives daily. Yet so few people know what we do

Anyone who watched BBC2’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Hospital might have heard of “the lab”. I am one of many who work there – and as a pathologist I often feel, as many of my lab colleagues do, like a forgotten or unknown entity.

There are nearly 20 disciplines of pathology – and that number is growing – and 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS involve pathology and biomedical science. The Royal College of Pathologists’ annual report [pdf] tells us that more than a billion tests are carried out annually – and NHS England says the number of pathology tests [pdf] equates to 14 for each person in England and Wales.

Sound impressive? Then why are we seen as back office staff by other professionals, with nobody fully understanding what we do? People often assume I deal with dead bodies when I tell them I work in a pathology lab. Postmortem pathologists account for about 1% of the pathology workforce.

My colleagues in the lab issue blood products to the scene of a car accident, and carry out screening tests to make sure a newborn baby doesn’t have a condition that would otherwise not get diagnosed until it is too late. They receive tissue from colons or breasts removed during surgery to see if a surgeon has fully got rid of a tumour; they assist in postmortems so that they might answer some of the questions a family may have – and help to ease their pain.

Pathologists and biomedical scientists also see what antibiotic would work best for you to help tackle antimicrobial resistance; they investigate hereditary disease so that any future generations might avoid the same illness. This is just a small insight into what we provide as a service.

Just because we’re not patient-facing, don’t be under any illusion that we care about them any less. On a number of occasions I’ve left work in tears, trying to get it all out of my system before going home to my family. Sometimes I feel it’s unfair that we know a patient’s diagnosis before they do, because we either see the results from the analyser or produce reports and these get discussed by healthcare professionals in order to approach the patient with treatment or management options.

I know that there’s no way of fixing this. However, it still doesn’t feel just or right. Many of us in the NHS spend much of our day feeling guilty: guilty that we can’t do more, guilty that we’re healthy and the patients we care for aren’t – and guilty because in order to care for patients we miss out on our own family time.

However, we still spend more of our time helping to deliver good news rather than bad. I remember a case from when I was on rotation in a blood bank many years ago. Doctors and porters were constantly coming up to the department for blood products, because as soon as any blood went into the patient being treated, it was just as quickly coming back out because their injuries were so severe.

The patient made what can only be described as a miraculous recovery. The blood bank and Welsh Blood Service played a huge part – yet that patient, and their family, will probably be unaware of this.

Another great part of my job is when we get a request for an urgent result or report and we work hard together to deliver the results – or when we find out which specific cancer someone has, so that patient can start their treatment immediately. It’s great being part of something that can make such a big difference to people’s lives.

I’m not demoralised and fed up – quite the opposite, in fact. I just want to highlight the variety of work we do and how it impacts on patient care. We are pathologists, biomedical scientists, associate practitioners, medical lab assistants and admin and clerical staff. We play a vital role in not just assisting in diagnosis, but also advising on the treatment and management of patients.

Pathology work goes on day and night, every day of the year. I feel so fortunate to have found a career I have fallen in love with – even if bits of it are gory.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs