Laura Green, Therapeutic Apheresis Services (TAS) Nurse Practitioner from Sheffield shares her experience at an educational event at Anthony Nolan HQ in London.
Anthony Nolan and the Sheffield TAS unit have worked closely together for the last 5 years. Unrelated stem cell donors attend the unit to complete a thorough medical and once medically cleared, donate their cells using the Optia machine or by a bone marrow harvest.
The Sheffield TAS team were recently invited by Paul Johnson, Transplantation Services Manager, to the Anthony Nolan HQ in London. With suggestions from our Lead Nurse Louise Collingwood, Paul had arranged an education day specifically for us. Attendees from the Sheffield TAS team included Louise Collingwood, Laura Green, Debbie Veitch, Alice Manton and Tammany Batty.
The education day started with Ann O’Leary, Assistant Director of Donor and Transplantation Services. She gave us an overview of the priorities of her department and the review conducted around reducing the time it takes to get donors to donation. Learning that Anthony Nolan strive to improve their service and donor experience really impressed us.
Our second speaker was someone we were familiar with. Pallvi who began her career with Anthony Nolan as a Donor Coordinator and is now in our Donor Liaison team. Her role involves tracing donors once they have been matched to an unrelated recipient. She informed us that this can be like detective work; using social media, GP details and previous addresses. Her team aims to secure the recipients best match.
We met Donor Provision co-ordinators Cynthia, Roman and Shannon. We speak to Anthony Nolan co-ordinators on a daily basis so to meet them in person was a great opportunity to build on existing relationships.
They took us through their roles and responsibilities including communication with the donor, the transplant centre, collection centre and arranging the donors transport and accommodation. The co-ordinators also deal with cord donations. This insight enabled us to gain a greater understanding into the workload of the team. Luckily they were more than happy to answer our questions and it allowed our already close relationship with Anthony Nolan grow.
After lunch, we spoke with Tom from Patient Services. He shared how his team support patients and their families from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. We weren’t aware of the extensive support Anthony Nolan have developed. Tom was so knowledgeable and it was clear that he is really passionate about the work his team does. We were shown materials his team have produced for patients, friends and families. Our TAS team can now suggest and signpost Anthony Nolan support to patients whilst they are on our unit. We have already shared our knowledge with the Transplant Centre at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and would encourage any patient and donor centres to order some of the fantastic material on offer by Anthony Nolan.
Following on from Tom, we had a talk from Medical Officer, Pepe. This gave us an insight into what follow up is given post donation, something we were all unfamiliar with. We also enjoyed the examples that he shared when a donor should be cleared, based on the information we provide him. It raised our understanding of the impact a donors previous and current medical conditions can have on their ability to donate.
We got to meet Donor co-ordinator, Amy Rees who some of us had worked with previously! Talking about the hard and essential work of the volunteer couriers was inspirational and it will be great to share this information with our donors. I shared this new knowledge with my dad and he has now signed up for the opportunity to be a courier for Anthony Nolan. It really did inspire us all!
Finally, we heard stories from Katie who is part of the Community Fundraising team. We found this very emotional and empowering.
We recognised some of the donors in her stories and this made us feel proud about the part we play in a donor’s journey. It has inspired us to think about how we can help Anthony Nolan and help raise funds ourselves in a team events in the future.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the day and have taken back to our Sheffield unit a wider knowledge base around Anthony Nolan and the donation process. It was fantastic to get two teams that work closely together to finally meet in person!
Photo above: (left to right) Alice Manton, Louise Collingwood, Debbie Veitch, Emma Green, Laura Green.
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