Lucy, Upper Sixth
When my A Level exams were cancelled at the end of March it quickly became clear my summer travelling plans were not going to work out. So I decided to look for something else to do over the summer instead. I started by looking for supermarket jobs but came across an advert for the job of clinical support worker at the new Nightingale Hospital, constructed to support London NHS during the pandemic. I applied, was accepted and went on a training day at the 02 in the middle of lockdown, which was really exciting.
However, I heard nothing more and a couple of weeks later the Nightingale Hospital was closed. A few more weeks passed with no news, and then I was approached by NHS Blood and Transplant to work as an ‘Antibody Angel’ for the Convalescent Plasma clinical trial. This is a trial of the use of blood plasma from people who have had COVID-19 for the treatment of patients in ICU, in the hope that the antibodies will help them to recover. Within a few days I had an interview on Zoom and got the job! I attended several virtual classroom lessons and a face-to-face training day just before I started working. I was allocated to one of the new ‘pop up’ static clinics which has been set up especially for plasma donors donating for the trial.
The job involves welcoming and registering the donors and screening them to make sure they are suitable for donation. Then, if they have passed the initial assessment, we take them over to the chairs to put the needle in, set up the machine and monitor them throughout their donation, which normally lasts about 30 - 40 minutes. While this happens I often have a chance to talk to the donors.
I have just finished my second week as an ‘Antibody Angel’ and it has been so interesting. On my first day it was very strange going to a new environment, completely different from school. Particularly given that I am at least five years younger than everyone else, so having moved from the top of school, I’m now at the bottom of the ‘ladder’ again!
So far this has been a really amazing experience and I have learnt so much, from the theory I need to do the job well, to meeting a huge range of fascinating people from different backgrounds and donors with stories to tell. As I hope to study medicine in the future, this has been great experience that will hopefully help me in my career. I am really enjoying the challenge and I feel privileged that I have been given this chance to contribute to helping beat the coronavirus – all whilst earning some money to put towards my gap year…