Judith Martin

Organ Donation Specialist Nurse

Possibly one of the hardest jobs in nursing is that of the intensive care nurse, and for Judith Martin, a Specialist Nurse Organ Donation (SNOD), intensive care is where she began her nursing story.

Judith has spent her entire nursing career around intensive care patients, firstly caring for them before moving into specialist nursing in organ donation where she has the opportunity to do what she loves most in nursing.

“My background is in critical care, I was a nurse on ITU for around 13 years and with that role you are often dealing with patients who are near the end of life or sadly have died.

“Very early on in my career I was drawn to looking after these people and their families. Making sure that they had the most dignified death possible is always key.”

While in the Intensive Care Unit, Judith got the chance to look into what would be her future career and was instantly drawn to the role.

“After observing a patient going through the organ donation process I knew that I wanted to follow that career path, which requires you to be in a senior role to be considered.”

She is employed by NHSBT (NHS Blood and Transplant) as a specialist nurse for the Midlands Organ Donation Services Team. She works on a day to day basis, at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and travels long distances across the region, when she is on call.

“When we are on call we can be referred patients from anywhere across the East and West Midlands who could be potential organ donors. We then go to the hospital and meet the families to provide them with information in order to enable them to consider organ donation on behalf of their loved one. Consent is key and many patients have already given their consent to organ donation in their lifetime via the NHS Organ Donor Register or carrying a donor card. My role is do discuss the process of organ donation with the family enabling the individual’s wishes to be fulfilled. Even if the patient is not on the register it is imperative that we offer every family this choice if organ donation is a possibility.

“Through our links with the recipient centres we then establish if there are any suitable recipients for the organs and arrange for the specialist Transplant surgeons to come to the hospital to carefully remove the organs for transplant.

“When we aren’t dealing with patients, we are very busy with hospital development including audit, education and working on projects, such as the organ donor memorial at City Hospital.”

Both Sandwell and City Hospital have memorials on their grounds which have been funded by SWBH Organ Donation Committee.

One of the memorials is a beautiful piece of wall art inside Sandwell Hospital, and at City Hospital there is a sculpture of a heart located with a circle of benches, inside a garden, which gives both patients and visitors the chance to relax in hospital grounds.

“Myself and the Organ Donation Committee are very proud of both memorials we have had installed within the Trust. The outdoor structure allows staff, relatives and the public to go and sit for a time of reflection in the gardens at City.”

This sculpture will be formally unveiled on September 9th this year.

“Whilst I am passionate about ensuring all families are given the choice to consider donation at the end of their loved ones life, if possible, I am also passionate about doing what I can to help save the lives of those waiting for a transplant.

“We must not forget that without the generosity of the families who say yes to organ donation we would have so few organs for transplant available. That is why we have installed the memorials at SWBH.”

Judith is married with two children and uses her spare time to keep fit and enjoys relaxing.

“I try to keep fit by going to the gym and I like going out for a nice meal.

“I love going on holiday. I have just completed a big road trip holiday to America. We started in New York where we rented a Harley Davidson and drove over 1000 miles to Chicago before flying to Toronto.”

Judith has come a long way in the NHS since she started in intensive care and she attributes a lot of her success in her role to that time.

“I was initially scared to death of working in ITU, but in reality, it was probably the best place to start.”

Judith is passionate about her job and would like to encourage everyone to consider signing up to the Organ Donation Register and discussing organ donation with their families.

“Both memorials are there to recognise and honour the gift that families and patients make when consenting to offer organs to help save the lives of others. Everyday people are dying waiting for a transplant.

“I would encourage anyone reading this to talk to their families about what they would want to do should they ever be in this position. You can sign up to the organ donation and register online or by telephone.”