Meet our team


Karen Quinn

Karen Quinn joined the NHS over 30 years ago after working in the voluntary sector and social services. She has held senior management positions in primary and secondary care up to Primary Care Group Chief Executive, combining commissioning and provider perspectives. Since joining NHS Blood and Transplant, Karen and her team set up the National Organ Retrieval Service, which has supported the increase in organ donation. This includes supporting contracts, such as transport and consumables. As Programme Director for SCORE, she now has the opportunity to work with stakeholders to revise the National Organ Retrieval Service structure and pathway, making it safe and sustainable for the next ten years.

John Richardson

John is the Accountable Executive for the SCORE Donation workstream, responsible for the delivery of donor screening, optimisation and organ offering initiatives. He has a background in intensive care nursing and began his career in organ donation in 2001 as a Donor Transplant Coordinator in the South East region. Following this he became the Lead Nurse for Organ Donation in London before joining NHS Blood and Transplant in 2008. John has held several leadership positions in the organisation, including Regional Manager and Head of Health Informatics. He commenced his current post of Assistant Director for Organ and Tissue Donation in 2020.

Debbie Macklam

Debbie has spent the majority of her career involved in change management across both the private and public sectors. Since joining the NHS in 2010, Debbie has focused on the implementation of patient-led change initiatives. She has provided leadership for the integration of novel technology into retrieval service delivery to increase the number of transplants. More recently, she was the lead for the development of business cases submitted to the UK Health Departments to gain substantive funding for donation after circulatory death heart and abdominal normothermic regional perfusion technologies.


Liz Middlehurst

Liz is the lead for the Donation workstream. She is responsible for the 4 projects within that workstream, covering donor screening, donation after circulatory death assessment, donor management and optimisation, and the offering process. She has a background in critical care nursing and began her Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation career in 2008 before taking on various senior nursing roles in the Acute Trust setting. She returned to NHS Blood and Transplant in 2021 as Head of Operations for Organ Donation, passionately advocating high standards of care for our donors, their families and the recipients.

Ian Thomas

Dr Ian Thomas is a consultant in Adult Intensive Care Medicine at North Bristol NHS Trust. He is National Performance Lead for Deceased Organ Donation in the United Kingdom and Clinical Lead for Organ Donation in the South West of England. He has a Masters degree in Medical Ethics and Law and his professional interests are in medical ethics, the diagnosis of death and deceased organ donation. Ian is a member of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Legal and Ethical Professional Unit and former chair of the Bristol Clinical Ethics Committee.

Vanessa Pritchard

Vanessa has been a Specialist Nurse since 2016 and has extensive experience in organ and tissue donation for both children and adults. In 2019, Vanessa joined the Education and Professional Team to lead on consent and authorisation. There, she designed and delivered annual communication courses for all specialist nurses in organ donation. Within the Donation workstream of SCORE, she will be collaborating with transplanting centres on formulating a robust assessment of identifying untransplantable organs during the donor facilitation process, before formal offering takes place.

Steph Russell

Steph has worked at NHS Blood and Transplant for the past 5 years as a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation in the London team, having previously worked in adult intensive care. She joined SCORE in August 2023 as a Project Lead within the Donation Workstream. Her project focus is to improve the efficiency of current practices across all UK regions for assessing potential donation after circulatory death and the likelihood of time to asystole within the accepted parameters for organ retrieval.

Julie Whitney

Julie Whitney, an experienced nurse with over 25 years in the NHS, has dedicated the past 18 years to organ donation and transplantation. Starting as a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation in London, she now leads the ODT Hub Team for the last 5 years. In this critical role, Julie oversees recipient registration, offering and allocation processes, and all follow-up procedures. Notably, she builds strong relationships with transplant centres, facilitating effective communication and collaboration for operationalising clinical needs. In the SCORE program, Julie plays a key role in proposing and implementing changes to offering processes, aligning them with program objectives and adapting to evolving organ donation and transplant service needs.

National Organ Retrieval Service model

Sarah Beale

Sarah is an experienced Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation, having worked across four of the Organ Donation teams in the South of the UK, most recently as a Lead Nurse in the South Wales team. Prior to that she worked nationally as a Service Development Manager alongside the National Clinical Lead for Organ Donation. She has recently completed the Rosalind Franklin programme and been awarded the NHS Leadership Academy Award in Senior Healthcare Leadership and is now working as a Service Development Manager within the Organ Donation and Transplantation Commissioning team.

Ian Currie

Ian Currie is a Consultant Transplant Surgeon in Edinburgh, UK Clinical Lead for Retrieval and the Associate Medical Director (Retrieval) for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation. Ian took a medical degree after completing a basic science PhD, then trained in Edinburgh and Leeds in Transplant Surgery. He was National Organ Retrieval Service lead in Edinburgh from 2010 to 2020 and was appointed to the UK Clinical Lead post in 2019 and Assistant Medical Director in 2022. His research interests focus on normothermic regional perfusion and the performance psychology of organ retrieval.

National Organ Retrieval Service workforce

Cecelia McIntyre

Cecelia is an experienced theatre sister who worked for many years within the Newcastle abdominal National Organ Retrieval Service and transplant team. She joined NHS Blood and Transplant as part of the Commissioning team in 2017, with a focus on communication and engagement with the 16 National Organ Retrieval Service teams. She is currently the Workforce workstream co-lead within SCORE, with the aim of supporting trusts and health boards to attract, develop and retain an expert workforce to allow sustainability in the future.

Support services

Mark Roberts

Mark is a qualified nurse with 25 years’ experience in organ donation and transplantation. He has held various roles within NHS Blood and Transplant, including the Business Lead for two EU-wide projects: Achieving Comprehensive Co-ordination in Organ Donation and Facilitating Exchange of Organs Donated in EU member states. He has also held the role of Service Development Manager, Head of Commissioning Development and his current post of Senior Commissioning Manager which includes the remit of supporting the National Organ Retrieval Service and transport contracts.


Emma Billingham

Emma joined the NHS in 1992 as a medical secretary, following which she undertook several operational management roles across a wide range of specialties. She joined NHS Blood and Transplant in 2011 as a Senior Commissioning Manager, and was appointed to the Head of Commissioning role in 2021.

Communication and engagement

Phil Walton

Phil joined NHS Blood and Transplant in 2009 as a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation in South Wales and progressed through the leadership pathway. He served as the operational manager during the implementation of Wales' Opt Out legislation for organ donation, successfully overseeing the transition to the new operational framework. Phil brings substantial expertise in change management, with a particular emphasis on effectively engaging stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including clinical (both internal and external), non-clinical, third sector, public and patient groups, as well as government and civil service entities.

Project management office

Jasvinder Ubhi

Jas has worked at NHS Blood and Transplant since 2015 in Business Transformation Projects, Programmes and Portfolio support roles. She has previously provided support to the Opt Out programme and is now working with SCORE as project management office support.

Lawna Pugh

Lawna has been working at NHS Blood and Transplant for over 13 years, firstly in the Blood Directorate (Marketing) and now in Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation. Having gained a wealth of knowledge in administration, she now manages the Commissioning administration team as well as supporting the Workforce workstream and the SCORE programme when required.