Monday, 30 September 2019

The doctor who's blind and deaf:

Alexandra (pictured right) with her fellow medical students at Cardiff University
Medical student, 25, uses a special Bluetooth stethoscope (and patients love her folding cane) Alexandra Adams, 25, is training to be a doctor despite being deaf and blind.

The fourth-year student was previously pegged to be a paralympic swimmer Miss Adams makes use of a specially made stethoscope to examine her patients. On her first day working on the ward, a doctor asked Alexandra Adams why she was walking around with a patient's cane. After explaining it was actually hers, the deaf and blind medical student was told not to touch any patients – then sent home. 

Now in her fourth year at university, Miss Adams, 25, has refused to let her disabilities hold her back from becoming a doctor. 'It has always been that if someone told me I couldn't do something, I would go out of my way to prove I could,' she said. 'I can do cannulation, take blood, catheterise [and] spot rashes.' Born deaf in both ears, and with vision of less than 5 per cent in her left eye and none in her right.   Alexandra is now in her fourth year of study on her way to becoming a fully qualified doctor.

She relies on touch to feel for veins, adding: 'You can pick up a lot about patients just by listening to them. Patient safety is paramount so if I'm doubting something, or I'm unsure, I always ask someone.' Miss Adams had been due to represent GB as a swimmer at the 2012 Paralympics but was hospitalised aged 16 with acid reflux. She told The Sunday Times that stomach surgery went 'very wrong', forcing her to have more than 20 operations and stay in the hospital for 18 months. 

The experience saw her switch her focus from swimming to medicine – and she duly enrolled to study the subject at Cardiff University. She says being a patient taught her the value of empathy. 'I've been able to go up to patients who've been terrified, and I just draw the curtains and say, 'I know how you feel'.

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