"I am delighted to report on my son, Alec’s, improvement in behavior when having blood tests taken largely (if not all!) due to the wonderful assistance of the Child Life Therapist, Kerry.
By way of background, my five-year-old son suffers from chronic renal failure since birth (due to a posterior urethral valve). He requires frequent blood tests (at best every 2-3 months and at worst three times a day when admitted to hospital). Unfortunately for Alec his vein size has been adversely affected by numerous courses of potent intravenous antibiotics - a cruel fate which apparently occurs not too infrequently to kidney kids.
My son’s fear of blood tests increased as he grew older and understood a visit to the hospital usually included a painful and stressful blood test. These negative experiences culminated at the beginning of 2013 when I had to physically lie on top of him to restrain him while two nurses tried to locate an elusive vein. Alec started having nightmares about blood tests and would cry he doesn’t want to visit doctors (quite impossible for a child suffering from a chronic illness and that have to visit the emergency room every time he has a fever).
We were lucky and ever grateful when Alec’s pediatrician suggested we use a Child Life Therapist.
Kerry has gradually changed Alec’s experience and perception of blood tests. The blood test equipment (ie tourniquet, syringe) we could take home has resulted in a desensitisation process and we can now even talk about blood tests without him falling in a heap. Her clever reward system of interesting games on the iPad and a variety of toys have gradually won Alec over and the inclusion of small toys for Alec’s sister Verona has greatly added to the overall positive experience for our family of a visit to Kerry.
To my surprise Alec has started expressing joy when I mention we are going to visit Kerry (although he still sometimes oscillates between joy and concern, a strong trend towards joy is visible). We were all astonished when Alec at his last blood test), without a local anesthetic, watched without uttering a sound the needle enter his skin and the vials fill up with blood. When completed, he simply looked back at the iPad as if nothing unusual has occurred. This dramatic turnaround in Alec’s behavior in just under a year is nothing short of a miracle in which Kerry played a key role."
Jacoline (Alec's Mum)