From Myanmar refugee to Sheffield scientist - hospital specialist tells her inspirational story

In 1995, Hser Kue’s parents were fleeing from a long lasting and still continuing civil war in Myanmar.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:00 am
Hser Kue at Sheffield Children’s.
Hser Kue at Sheffield Children’s.

Some 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: “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.”

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.

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.

She said: “The idea of becoming a biomedical scientist was always of interest to me.

“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 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.

Hser Kue, now a specialist biomedical scientist, said: “ 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.”