A team of clinicians at the Royal Free Hospital (RFH) have been given a national award for their exceptional work in retrieving donor organs from across the country for use in transplantation.

The seven members of staff, who collectively have helped save or improve the lives of hundreds of patients, have all completed five years of continuous service in the organ retrieval team.

Sharayne Robinson, Keziah Crick, Angeline Shoniwa, Almira Rairata, Jonaline Sison, Jee Yeon and Fuad Musallam all received an NHS certificate in recognition of their work, presented to them by John Connolly, RFH chief executive, and Rebecca Longmate, RFH director of nursing, alongside senior theatre leadership team staff.

Members of the organ retrieval team often travel significant distances and work long hours away from home in order to ensure organs are available for life-saving transplants.

John Connolly, chief executive of the RFH, praised the staff. He said: “These brilliant people don’t just support liver and kidney transplant in this hospital by retrieving organs, they also help support transplantation across the NHS. We’re very proud of how you contribute to nationally important and critical work and you should be proud of your amazing contribution too.”

Theodora Pissanou, hepatobiliary surgeon, said: “I want to thank the team from the bottom of my heart. This job is all consuming, emotionally and physically and you do all this alongside recruiting, training and motivating new staff. We couldn’t have achieved everything we’ve done in this service without you.”

Angeline Shoniwa, one of the recipients of the award, said: “I’m emotional, I want to cry. It’s been a long journey and I’ve worked so hard. There are many skills you need for this job and there are many challenges, it’s not an easy job. We see patients die and we have to prepare people for that who join the team.

“Plus there are a lot of instruments and techniques you need to learn and you have to be fit because we have to carry a lot of kit and ice. You might even need to fly somewhere like Ireland or Malta. The job is tough but it’s also incredibly rewarding.”

If you’re interested in the work of the organ retrieval team at the RFH and want to find out more then e-mail rf-tr.TheatreMatrons@nhs.net for more details.