Donating samples of human tissue supports vital research into the causes of diseases and the development of effective new treatments. Your samples let researchers understand exactly what’s happening in various healthy cells or tissues. It gives them vital insights into what goes wrong in diseased conditions. This research relies on access to large numbers of samples. We can only get these when people like you consent to donate surplus tissue after screening or procedures.
Meet some donors
Adrienne Morgan is a scientist, who loves working in the lab, but breast cancer has prevented her working full time. For her, being able to donate tissue taken as part of treatment is one positive in a distressing situation.
Roy Collins is a PCSO working for Sussex Police, which allows him to fulfill his passion for engaging and supporting the community.
In 2011 Roy found out that he had breast cancer. When asked to consent to donating his tissues for research, the answer was simple: 100% yes.
It is through the support of Adrienne, Roy and the many other people who consent to having their tissue used for research that researchers will be able to find the causes, and cures, for breast cancer and other diseases.
Whether you decide to consent to donating surplus tissue or not makes no difference to the treatment you will receive. The priority is always to use your samples to ensure that you get the best treatment. We only store extra tissues left over after examination for research.
Your sample will support vital health research
Professor Louise Jones is a research scientist and a pathologist and she combines these dual roles in her work with the Norwich Research Park Biorepository.
As a pathologist her job is to handle tissue from patients, examine it and report her findings back to the clinical team.
As a researcher, Louise relies on human samples to understand how breast cancer progresses. Tissue samples donated by patients let her translate findings made in the lab to the clinical setting. This is a vital step to changing and improving patient care. Every single patient’s samples are incredibly valuable to the research community, the clinical community and ultimately to patients themselves.
Consenting supports research without compromising your treatment
Usually the pathologist only needs a small part of the sample given by the patient. In many cases, the rest is thrown away as clinical waste, but if you consent for you sample to be used in research, it can instead be saved and put to valuable use. This doesn’t compromise how the clinical team use your sample. Examining the sample to decide your best care takes priority. It’s tissue that would otherwise be thrown away after the examination that becomes a valuable resource for researchers.
Garry John is a consultant in clinical biochemistry in the NNUH pathology labs. He and his team analyse the blood to assess your health, or identify infections or screen for conditions.
Blood tests are central to the whole clinical process. Sometimes more blood is collected than is required for clinical purposes, in case follow-up tests are required. The excess sample is usually discarded, but with your consent researchers can obtain a wealth of information supporting research.