A teenager who recovered from being critically ill has sat her A-level exams one year early while recovering in a ward at Royal Derby Hospital.
Tejal Paliya, a 17-year-old student at Littleover Community School, contracted a bacterial infection which left her fighting for her life in intensive care. However, Tejal made a fantastic recovery and went on to sit her exams on the Ward 305 while she recovered.
On 31 March, Tejal was admitted to the Emergency Department at the Royal Derby Hospital after falling ill. Her condition rapidly deteriorated and she was later admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Tejal said: “On the Monday I was at school and I promised my teacher I’d give my homework in tomorrow, but because I got sick, tomorrow never arrived.
“I’ve always been scared of hospitals and have avoided them whenever I can, but everyone has been so kind and lovely. I feel like I’ve been at home.”
Over the course of the next 12 days, Tejal was cared for in intensive care and gradually began to show signs of improvement.
When she awoke, Tejal had lost some of the grip in her left hand and couldn’t move her hands and feet for two weeks, and has had to learn to walk again.
Tejal added: “The nurses helped me to do everything. I was so scared when I woke up but I never felt like I was asking for too much from all of the staff.
“Recovery has been difficult but with the help of the physios and all of the other staff, I’ve been able to get where I am today.”
After she was transferred to Ward 305 to continue her recovery, Tejal’s attention began to turn to her love of education and her A-level exams, which she was hoping to sit one year early.
Tejal, who has ambitions to study Chemical Engineering at university, said: “During lockdown I needed something to do, so I asked my dad if he could get me the textbooks for A-level exams and he did. I sat and read all of them and looked through all of the past papers and thought that I could do the exams.
“I had a chat to my teachers about whether I should sit the exams, and they agreed so I went for it.”
After speaking with her teachers at Littleover Community School, plans were put in place for Tejal to take all eight of her exams in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry in a dedicated side room on the ward.
Tejal said: “When I started to feel well enough on the ward, I spoke to the school and they agreed that I could take my exams while I was here. The nurses have been so kind and have sat with me as invigulators while I sat the tests.
“As long as I didn’t look at my surroundings, it was no different to taking an exam at school.”
Eight exams and 51 days after her admission, Tejal was given a guard of honour as she was discharged home to continue her recovery with her mum, dad and younger sister. However, she has already set her sights firmly on getting back into the classroom.
She said: “The one thing I’m most looking forward to is going back to school! Of course I have missed being at home, but I have made friends for life here so I’m going to miss everyone and the routine I’ve got on the ward.
“I am just so touched by everyone’s kindness and I want to say thank you to everyone.”
Maggie Kumari, Senior Sister on Ward 305, said: “Every so often, we meet someone extraordinary through our work. Tejal has been inspirational to the team on the ward with her positive attitude and motivation to recover.
“We have been able to support her wish to undertake her A-level exams on the ward and it's been a pleasure to meet someone so focused at such a young age. Her goal is to go to Cambridge University to study chemical engineering. There is no doubt she will achieve this.”