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Northumbria University becomes first centre to train nurses in organ donation

Trainees will also be ‘taught to handle the emotional side of their work’
Having a difficult conversation with a donors' loved ones

Trainees will also be ‘taught to handle the emotional side of their work’

Newcastle has become a major training hub for nurses specialising in organ donation.

Northumbria University was selected by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to be the first academic centre to host training for the specialist nurses.

A mix of simulated and on-site training

They will take part in simulated scenarios at the university, and will spend around six months learning ‘on the job’ with specialist organ donation nurses.

Other nurses elsewhere in the country will learn at three hospital-based specialist centres in Nottingham, Birmingham and Scotland.

Northumbria University’s clinical skills centre will be used for the simulated side of the training, and comprises an anaesthetic room, operating theatre and recovery room, alongside hospital

Trainees will also be ‘taught to handle the emotional side of their work’


The course will advise on having conversations with a donor’s relatives. Picture: iStock

Newcastle has become a major training hub for nurses specialising in organ donation.

Northumbria University was selected by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to be the first academic centre to host training for the specialist nurses.

A mix of simulated and on-site training

They will take part in simulated scenarios at the university, and will spend around six months learning ‘on the job’ with specialist organ donation nurses.

Other nurses elsewhere in the country will learn at three hospital-based specialist centres in Nottingham, Birmingham and Scotland.

Northumbria University’s clinical skills centre will be used for the simulated side of the training, and comprises an anaesthetic room, operating theatre and recovery room, alongside hospital wards and a home setting.

Learning how to support donors’ loved ones

The university’s associate professor in simulation-based education Alan Platt said the training would involve ‘meaningful, practical and theoretical clinical practice’.

He added: ‘The heartbreaking scenarios that can lead to organ donation form the basis of many exercises that healthcare professionals will be involved in during their course. 

‘As well as having to plan for procedures involved in organ donation, the trainees will also be taught to handle the emotional side of their work, with actors being drafted in to act out the roles of donors’ relatives and loved ones.’

Consolidating expertise in one course

An NHSBT spokesperson praised the university’s ‘superb’ training centre. 

‘We are delighted to be working alongside Northumbria University to train specialist nurses in organ donation, as well as providing courses for intensive care medicine senior doctors,’ they said.

From spring 2020, England will run an ‘opt out’ organ donation system, in which adults will be presumed to consent to donating their organs when they die, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate, or are in an excluded group. 


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