Quadriplegic doctor obtains degree against all odds

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Dr Swartbooi faces each day with vigour and resilience. Dr Swartbooi analyses images on a screen in the Clinical Imaging Laboratory at Universitas Academic Hospital. Photo: Oteng Mpete

Life’s defining moments are when perseverance is rewarded. It is not easy to swim against the tide. However, for Dr Ambrotius Swartbooi from the University of the Free State’s Department of Clinical Imaging Sciences, it became his moment of glory.

In 2006, Swartbooi suffered a spinal injury from a near-fatal car accident which left him paralysed and a quadriplegic.

He spent close to six months, recovering from his injuries. “You have one of two choices: to lie down and give up or to pick yourself up,” he said.

He would inspire other patients with similar injuries to reintegrate into society despite their new-found circumstances.

Fortunately, not all was doom and gloom, in 2007 Swartbooi got married and his wife has supported and inspired him to continue pursuing his dreams.

He completed his undergraduate medical degree at the UFS and in 2014 decided itwas time to complete his studies and pursued an M Med specialising in Diagnostic Radiology.

After all his trials and tribulations, Dr Swartbooi will be receiving his M Med Diagnostic Radiology degree at the UFS Summer Graduation ceremony in December 2016.

His research focuses on intracranial aneurysm size interventions. He discovered that there were discrepancies between international standards for intervention and African standards for intervention.

The research inspects what should be treated and how it should be treated. He found there was a gap in African literature into the size of aneurysms.

“That’s a good question,” said Swartbooi.

“Slowly from here. I still need to work on getting my full accreditation from the Health Professions Council of South Africa.” He plans to continue fuelling his passion for teaching. “There is no place better to teach than at an academic hospital.”

He also commended the efforts of the Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), which assisted him in writing all his exams. “I want to be able to make a fulfilling and lasting impact on people but also to give the best medical service that I can,” concluded Swartbooi. – Statement issued