Julie - Interview 15

Age at interview: 45

Brief outline: Julie has taken part in several research studies, including donating blood and urine samples to a local project to improve identification and treatment of women with pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. She also took part in the UK National Biobank study.

Background: Julie is an educational consultant and writer. She is married with a 3-month old baby, and is taking a career break to look after him. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

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Julie feels very strongly about the importance of taking part in medical research and helping other people who have particular conditions. She has been a blood donor since she was 18, and carries an organ donation card. Her willingness to be involved in medical research is all part of the same belief system of giving to others.

Julie and her husband first got involved in research together when they were at a hospital appointment, and saw a poster asking for people willing to take part as healthy volunteers in a study of blood oxygenation levels in the heart. They found it very interesting, though it was also more demanding than Julie expected. It involved spending 90 minutes in an MRI scanner, doing various breathing exercises, and having two cannulas (fine tubes) inserted into veins. 
Then they were both invited to take part in the UK Biobank, a study which is collecting samples of blood and urine, measurements such as height, weight and blood pressure, and lifestyle details such as exercise, diet, smoking and alcohol from half a million people nationally. By linking this information with future health records scientists hope to make progress in understanding causes and risk factors for many types of disease. Julie and her husband were very interested, and had no problem agreeing to take part. They found it all very easy to do, although Julie remembers it being quite challenging answering questions about her exercise patterns. It made her more aware of her weight and the need to do more exercise, so it has had an unexpected personal benefit for her. She is happy for her samples to be used in any way in future, and trusts the professional staff involved to look after her data carefully.
Julie’s new baby was conceived using egg donation and IVF, and this has made her feel grateful to the egg donor and to people who have previously taken part in studies which have led to these treatments being developed. As a result she feels even more inclined to take part in research, and when she became pregnant asked if there were any studies she could join. She was sent to see the research midwives working in pregnancy studies, and was offered the chance to be in a study where blood and urine samples are being collected to help improve the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and better understand its causes. Later in pregnancy Julie was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure, and the research midwives came to see her – both to collect more information about her but also to check how she was doing. She feels the relationship with the research midwives has been very positive and that she has been treated as part of the team. She was particularly surprised and pleased to hear that there were already some promising early results from the study. 


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