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Dr Hannah McGivern provides a 'behind-the-scenes' account of her experience producing the video 'Journey of a QUOD Sample: Donating to Transplant Research', supported by the funds from the University of Oxford Public Engagement with Research (PER) Seed Fund.

Filming underway in the QUOD biobank © Marta Oliveira

Image credit: Marta Oliveira

During my undergraduate degree, being a presenter for the University’s television station was a norm for me and since then, presenting at academic conferences and symposia has also become customary. Recently however, I made my debut behind the camera. I wanted to reflect on this valuable experience, as being project lead presented a new challenge, and has taught me much concerning my leadership capabilities in addition to crafting and honing a successful grant proposal. Skills that are critical for any researcher embarking on their academic career.

The development of the ‘Journey of a QUOD Sample: Donating to Transplant Research’ video has been funded by the University of Oxford Public Engagement with Research (PER) Seed Fund. The PER Seed Fund awards small grants to researchers engaged in a public outreach event or activity of their own making. In this case, our aim was to provide an insight into the inner workings of the Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) biobank with the hope of de-mystifying the laboratory-based stages of this process for our collaborators, as well as raise awareness of the importance of research into transplantation.

The success of the project is attributed to the level of co-ordination and communication maintained for the duration of the process. Our funds allowed for two days of filming only, meaning the time and resources at our disposal needed to be maximised. This included sourcing and booking suitable laboratory space and interview rooms in advance. In addition to completing risk assessments, health and safety paperwork for different departments and planning for our filmmaker to work on-site as an external contractor. A timetable was created which included a storyboard for each segment of the video. This early efficiency meant that everyone involved knew exactly what was going on and what footage was needed at any given time. As a result, it was possible to collate more footage than was originally intended. Good communication was critical in administering a last-minute amendment to the video. We have been extremely fortunate to work with such talented collaborators who have worked tirelessly to help bring our original vision to life. In the end, it was very gratifying to see this vision come to fruition.

Since the release of our video, we have been monitoring its reach and impact. Answers to our survey have revealed that 80% of our audience identify as someone other than a donor, recipient family member or healthcare professional, which demonstrates that the video has travelled beyond our target audiences. We promoted the video on our social media platforms where 47% of viewers watched it. We found this to be a great way to engage a wider range of communities beyond those within the University and NHS.

This experience has not only enabled me to broaden my skillset, but also work with people that I ordinarily would have little contact with. This also allowed me to delve into a different medium of science communication. Until next time…that’s a wrap! 

The QUOD programme is a unique partnership between NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and academic centres, hosted by the University of Oxford. QUOD is a national consortium working together with Newcastle University, all National Organ Retrieval Service teams, Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation and 61 hospitals across the UK, with support from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

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