Meet our awesome Champions
Name: Lois Leese (Events & Outreach Supervisor)
I am in my second year of Biomedical Sciences BSc. Many of the issues surrounding blood and organ transplantation have clear alignment with elements of my course, such as in the blood sciences, genetics, and in biochemistry. But what really draws me to this research team is the fact that it opens up a broader conversation around the ethics involved, with a particular emphasis on the socio-cultural & religious beliefs that may impact an individual’s choices when deciding whether or not to become a donor. Through joining the team, I hope to learn more and to understand how we can better approach the topic of donation, using models that work across all ethnicities and belief systems.
Name: Amber Ansombe (Social Media Supervisor)
I am in my second year of Biomedical Science BSc and have become a Champion for the NHSBT Funded Donor Research Team to simply try and help people and save lives. In order to do this, we will create awareness and break through boundaries, by educating the public against misconceptions, and by empowering people to have the confidence to initiate conversations about blood and organ donation. I want to work towards highlighting the importance and positivity donating brings; it saves lives! Currently, only 50% of the UK are aware of their blood type, there is a 1:6 organ donor to organ recipient ratio, and every organ donor has the potential to save up to 9 lives. Let’s make a change!
Name: Nadeen Alay (Digital Supervisor)
I study Biomedical Science and I am currently on placement as a Trainee Student Biomedical Scientist. I have always been extremely fascinated about Blood and Organ donation; in particular the barriers involved in ensuring successful transplantations, as well as the risk that misinformation has on our community’s awareness of how to register as a donor and their right to Opt-out if they do not wish to. As an individual from an ethnically diverse background; I have seen first-hand the sheer lack of conversation around Organ donation; as part of Donor Research I hope to change family and friends perspectives around this topic – ‘it’s not a taboo!’ I am a B+ Blood Donor and this means that my blood can be used in treatment of Sickle Cell. The element that captivated me the most about the Donor Research Team, is the fact that I will be part of a co-productive project with many different academics and students and I am excited to learn and develop with them. I hope to develop leadership skills and be at the forefront on ethical discussions about donations.
Name: Alice de Courcy Thompson (Communications Supervisor)
I am currently in my third year studying Biomedical Science and have been a part of the Donor Research team since Summer 2021. I am currently working on my third year project which attempts to address the overrepresentation of ethnic minority groups on the organ donor waiting list as well as the underrepresentation on the organ donor register. My inspiration for this came from the Donor Research Team and I continue to be inspired to encourage open and honest conversations surrounding organ donation.
Name: Swetha Kalaimani (2023 Digital and Comms Lead)
I am currently a second year Biomedical Science Student at the University of Brighton. I have been interested in organ donation for the last couple of years, especially due to the lack of education about organ donation in my cultural community. As someone who is passionate about healthcare, I have always strived to create an environment where everyone can receive the care they need, and Donor Research is the perfect place to raise awareness and do just that. I hope Donor Research will open new windows of knowledge and help widen my horizons.
Name: Odess Anareta
I’m Odess Anareta, a 2nd year Adult Nursing student with interest in public health and research. Blood and organ donation is of interest to me as it highlights an area of healthcare where inequalities manifest and persist. BAME communities are more likely to have diseases that lead to organ failure – due to an array of biological, psychosocial, behavioral and socioeconomic factors – but they are also much more likely to suffer from organ donation scarcity. Hence, I wish to be a part of a Donor Research group that is addressing the complex issue of low organ donation rates from BAME communities as I believe that this is one way of bridging this gap, among many others.
Name: Dillan Khilochia (2023 Champion)
I am a first year Biomedical Science Student at the University of Brighton. My main reason for joining the donor research team is due to my interest in the inequalities present in the number of ethnic minority organ donors. I understand that there is a certain stigma attached to organ donation and I wish to be a part of a movement which challenges this stigma through educational and accessible information.
Name: Gunnika Jain (2023 Events & Outreach Lead)
I am currently a first-year Biomedical Science student at the University of Brighton. I want to join Donor Research as I want to spread more awareness about organ donation. I am quite surprised that not many people know about organ donation and transplants. As an international student from India, I can confidently say that very few people have any idea about organ donation and when made aware are quite averse to the idea. Also, I would like to find out about organ donation in minority communities. I look forward to working in the team and spreading accurate information to as many people as possible!
Name: Parneet Nayyar (2023 Champion)
My name is Parneet, and I am currently a first year Biomedical Science student at the University of Brighton. I would like to learn more about why there is such a shortage in organ donation within BAME communities. Being South Asian I have found that many family members are usually not willing to donate or even talk about the subject and yet have no particular reason why and therefore highlights that the stigma is arising due to misinformation which I would like to help change. I am excited to work as a part of the research team and help inform people through outreach projects and much more!
Name: Katherine Hammerton (2023 Champion)
I am currently in my first year of studies as a Biomedical Science student and was surprised at how little my cohort knew about organ donation and their say in the matter. Often time it is a topic that gets overlooked as a majority of people are ill-informed – resulting in a plethora of misconceptions surrounding your choices and how they can be tailored to fit personal beliefs. I hope that as a member of this team, I will be able to help people make a choice and become actively involved wherever they can.
Name: Jana Thirunavukkarasu (2023 Champion)
I am a first year Biomedical Science student and having previously worked in the healthcare sector, my interest in organ donation has nothing but intensified by becoming a part of the Donor Research team at Brighton! Being Sri Lankan myself, I have noticed that this topic of conversation can be a difficult one to approach, however, being part of this community has made it feel far easier to adress misconstrued information, not only with my friends and family, but also with the work we do with schools, that may hold someone back from being an organ donor and potentially saving nine lives.
Name: Vishsmitha Gunalan (2023 Champion)
Name: Stephen Scott-Loach
I am currently a first year Trainee Nursing Associate and am enjoying every moment. I am from a social services background, both adults and children services. I also have experience of working in NHS rehabilitation services. I am currently a blood donor and am registered on the organ donation list where I have stated they can have any organs. I am interested in this as I want to give back and help others to live after my death. I also wish to expand my knowledge of healthcare and add to my nursing experience.
Name: Lisa-Marie Ward
I started studying FdSc in health and social care (nursing associate) in February 2023. Medically, I have an extensive background in dementia, trauma and orthopedics, planned surgical care and most recently, within community mental health. Once qualified, I want to specialise in Paediatric oncology. I guess the main reason for this (and my reasonings for having a keen interest in blood and donor research) is because, in 2001, at the tender age of 5, my brother was diagnosed with 2 types of leukaemia, for which he needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. Unfortunately, due to tricky genetics, we could not use a family donor and had to reach out for an unrelated one. Luckily, we found one within a few weeks and the transplant was successful. My brother then went onto endure several more cancers throughout his lifetime, before losing the battle and passing away in 2019 aged 24 from lung cancer. I’m telling you this because had he not had a successful bone marrow transplant in the first place, we would not have had as many years with Ryan as we did and for that I am truly grateful. He was my best friend and I miss him so much. He is my reason for doing what I do. My aim is to promote and encourage blood and organ donations as much as physically possible. I’ve always wanted to be a donor, but as mentioned my family have tricky genes so I am unable to do so, but by doing this lead role I can help others to know the importance of blood and organ donation. Having a personal connection with someone on the receiving end of a donation gives me the insight and empathy to give something back. It will also help me longer term when I am a paediatric oncology nurse!
Name: Thivya Kularajan
I am a second year medical student at Brighton & Sussex Medical School, and Biomedical Science graduate from the University of Brighton. I have witnessed first-hand the importance of donation, but having grown up in a South Asian household, I am aware of the difficulties in talking about donation in some communities. I appreciate Donor Research opening up those conversations, because it is rarely the case that people don’t want to help – it’s just that they have not been given the right information! I’m thrilled to be a part of a team of people that are working to change that.
Name: Mia Robinson
I am a mature student living in Eastbourne and attending the School of Applied Science at the Moulsecoomb campus of the University of Brighton.
I am particularly interested in the blood sciences, so it has been a real pleasure to join the donor research champions team. I feel being a part of this team will enhance my academic career, giving me the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a donor and how donations can save lives as well as providing a valuable input to research into many diseases and therapeutics. I have just completed my level 3 Phlebotomist training, which means I am trained in the taking of blood samples and in my education in biomedical sciences I am learning how to analyse samples. I find this to be both fascinating and fulfilling.
Being a part of the Donor research champions gives me the chance to help tell people about the benefits of being a blood and organ donor, it will also give me the chance to meet people who work within the field of blood sciences, and I hope my Phlebotomy training will enable me to find a placement or volunteer role within the blood collection and transfusion services. I hope I can make use of my knowledge of phlebotomy to enhance my activities within the donor research team and I look forward to engaging with you all during my time with the team.
Name: Joana Miranda (Senior Reviewer)
To improve the health of individuals and thereby bring about positive change to society as a whole is an aspiration I hold as my most fundamental of values. Emergency medicine is an area of patient care I’m interested in, particularly trauma. Modern emergency medicine has an intimate relationship with donors and recipients and depends upon blood and organ donations. There is still an immense gap between donors and recipients that is vital to close. By joining the NHSBT Donor Research, I aim to bring value to the project by fully understanding the needs of donors, recipients and the multidisciplinary health team that thrive on making a difference in patient care.
Name: Dishani Arulampalam
Degree: Medical School (BSMS)
Being part of the BAME community has sparked a personal interest in organ donation. These conversations were stimulated within my family due to the opt-out system that was brought in last year. From this experience, what I have realised is the importance of communication to understand the value of organ donation.
Name: Shavanne Edwards (MRes Student 2021-22)
I’m a recent BSc Biomedical Sciences graduate and I am excited to explore current attitudes towards organ donation. Presently I am having these conversations with my family, but they have remained casual but as the discussion between more challenging the topic can become uncomfortable. I believe the only way to progress the discussion around organ donation in order to make it an acceptable and accessible topic between loved ones is to remove the formality, mystery and pressure, approaching the subject in a reassuring manner.
Meet our awesome 2021 Champions
Some created content that is student-friendly about the facts and stats, how to start the donation conversation and how to move from intention to registering an informed choice. Some planned and managed an online event in Sept 2021, that provided an opportunity to facilitate organ donation and transplantation discussions while others learnt the art of survey research design to effectively capture insights during the event.
Hi my name’s Anndior . I’m a second year nursing student. I would start a conversation about organ donation, by asking people what their greatest fear about donating to give them confidence in whatever decision the decide to make!
Name: Carla Lima Vaz Quaresma
I am a second-year biomedical sciences student and I normally stimulate conversations about organ donations with my friends and family by telling them some statistics of organ donation and the BAME community and try to understand why my family members and many people from an African background are not interested in organ donation.
My name is Elisha and I am going into my second year of Biomedical Science. To stimulate conversation about organ donation, I would have an open dialogue with my family and my community, making sure to highlight the facts and figures, ensuring that its known what is involved in organ donation and the help that is given along the way by the professionals.
Name: Dorothy Ave
Degree: Biomedical Science (3rd year)
After gaining insight from researching organ donations and their popularity across different communities, I evidently found out that BAME communities have a shortage in relation to organ donations. Coming from a BAME background these findings have sparked my interest in this research project. I am fascinated and curious to investigate perceptions and barriers that hinder my community from being organ donors. Finding possible solutions to this matter is very important to me.
I’m Ceren Arslan, a 3rd year Biomedical Science student, and I am interested in exploring the significance of organ donation in society. I believe that it is important to have comfortable discussions about organ donation with family, in order to know their honest stance on the matter. By developing a well informed understanding of the subject, it can be easier to initiate and facilitate these conversations.
Name: Vejeeva Jeevananthan
Degree: Biomedical Science (third year)
The facts are staggering about the lack of BAME donors and finding someone suitable. I would like to raise awareness and start a donation conversation by presenting information with statistics, the actual process and discuss personal views that may prevent a BAME member to opt-in. By having an informative open discussion with someone who were once doubtful perhaps due to misconceptions or lack of awareness, may now be interested in becoming a donor and help save lives!!
Become a co-designer in a public health awareness event
We have embarked on a project to explore the mechanisms underpinning organ donation and transplantation pathway. We are seeking first-year and second-year undergraduate students who are keen to gain research experience by supporting us with own NHSBT-funded project.
The project will involve a training workshop on how to be a research champion by understanding more about the real-life issues associated with organ donation and transplantation. You will develop leadership and collaborative working skills as we support you to co-design and co-deliver an online education event. You will gain experience in website content design and education materials that you can publish on our website https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/donorresearch/. Running and evaluating public health awareness programmes like this offers excellent experience for your CV such as teamwork, problem solving, as well as effective communication and presentation skills.
The commitment required is a two-hour induction session and would suit an individual who:
* Is highly motivated
* Is keen to gain research experience
* Wants to gain a deeper insight into organ donation and transplantation
Sign up here
For more information about the research project please go to https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/donorresearch/