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Sheffield Children’s biomedical scientist tells her story from Myanmar to the steel city

Hser Kue in Haematology lab
25 June 2021

In 1995, Hser Kue’s parents were fleeing from a long lasting and still continuing civil war in Myanmar. 26 years later, after moving countries, learning a new language and adjusting to a different lifestyle, Hser Kue is now a vital part of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Haematology team.

Hser Kue said: “My mum was pregnant with me when they left Myanmar and both me and my siblings were born in a refugee camp in Thailand.

“My parents gave up everything that they had in their homeland to come and start a new life and give us a new beginning. We are from the Karen, an ethnic group in Myanmar. Their dream was to give us better security and an education that they never had.

“However, we were still in fear; we could only do the things that the authority would allow us. The thought of freedom was further than we expected.”

Hser Kue lived in the refugee camp for 12 years before she and her family were able to move to England in 2007.

Hser Kue said: “To be able to knock on the door of freedom felt like walking through fire with bare feet. However, my parents never gave up and would do any type of work to get the money we needed and provide for the family. They always made sure we had food on our table and a roof above our head.”

Through their hard work, Hser Kue’s parents were able to set up a new life for their children in Sheffield.

Hser Kue added: “The Steel City was our new beginning. I remember my first time on an aeroplane; excitement filled me when I took my first step on the plane starting our new life. I still remember the food on the plane and I had never been so happy. It was better than I had hoped for and I had never had anything more than rice. I remember the plane flying off and seeing the city I lived in from that height for the first time was breathtaking. Hours and hours passed, and then we finally landed in England. My mind still fills with laughter and happiness at that thought!”

Living in Sheffield was initially difficult for Hser Kue, who didn’t speak English at the time and was used to a very different culture. One of her very first experiences in England is still fresh in her mind.

Hser Kue said: “I remember our first time at a hotel that we all – as refugees – had to stay in. We couldn’t believe our eyes at the sight and we were so happy that we took our shoes off when going into the hotel as it was a tradition to take our shoes off to show respect and we all left our shoes outside the hotel.

“I felt like an outsider. The lifestyle in Sheffield was more luxurious than what I was used to in Thailand. The food and the culture was also very different and that was really difficult to adapt to. But since then I have learned more and I am able to love and adore this culture and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”

Following her difficult start, Hser Kue excelled; going on to achieve a First in Biomedical Science at Sheffield Hallam University and then turning her thoughts to her career.

She said: “The idea of becoming a Biomedical Scientist (BMS) was always of interest to me. Science fascinated me and I was always interested in the human body. Helping people too, I believe that helping others would create a better environment for everyone.

“I have come to the realisation that you don’t need to become a doctor or a nurse to make a positive difference to someone’s life. That is one of the reasons why I have become a Biomedical Scientist. We are medical detectives who can improve patient’s lives from behind the scenes.”

Hser Kue’s first role at Sheffield Children’s came as a placement student, where she spent time working in the Haematology Laboratory. Here, the team carry out a wide variety of tests to diagnose a range of haematological conditions and provide a round-the-clock service interpreting test results and advising on the appropriate use of blood components. The service also has a role to play at times of major haemorrhages or traumas; making sure that the blood stock level is maximised to prevent the delay of blood provision.

Hser Kue said: “I would do the work Biomedical Scientists would do and I was completely fascinated by it. I was also able to witness the strength of the teamwork, and see how the staff were able to work as one to demonstrate the Trust’s values. Although Biomedical Scientists do not work in close contact with patients, they still provide high standards of patient care – it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to work at Sheffield Children’s.”

Now a Specialist Biomedical Scientist, Hser Kue has settled in to ‘Team Haem’ very well.

“Working with Team Haem does not feel like a team – it’s more like a family. We work hard together to provide excellent patient care and are always keen to ensure that the turnaround time for testing is met so that clinicians – and patients – can see the results as soon as possible and treatments can be given if needed.

“I feel privileged to be a part of Team Haem and – to any young person wanting to take this career path – I would tell them that it would be a great decision! You will always learn new skills and knowledge as science is constantly evolving and you will get satisfaction out of the work too.”

We are privileged to have you as part of the Sheffield Children’s family Hser Kue, thank you!

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