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Health scare teenager studying course to help others

Monday 16 October 2017

A TEENAGER who spent five months in hospital after contracting a potentially fatal condition has been inspired to study a course enabling him to help others.

Archie Veale, who had to be airlifted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital from his home on the Isle Of Man after developing septicaemia, has now started a new life studying Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Salford.

The course – one of only two of its kind in the UK – includes the study of devices to aid mobility, which Archie has used to help his own recovery from the ordeal.

Archie, now aged 19, suffered multiple organ failure after he contracted the condition in 2014, and during his time in hospital he spent two weeks in an induced coma.

A special device called an Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine had to be used to do the work of his heart, doctors had to carry out an emergency procedure to save his leg, and a tracheostomy had to be performed enabling him to breathe through a tube inserted in the front of his neck.

Archie missed out on a year of school because of his time in hospital and had to re-sit his GCSEs while undergoing regular physiotherapy to help him recover because of damage that had to been done to his nerves and muscles.

While studying for A-levels he was drawn to help others who had been through similar ordeals and coached at his local wheelchair sports club, coming into contact with amputees from children who had lost limbs due to illness to military veterans who had suffered trauma on the battlefield.

Archie says this – as well as his experience of the medics who helped him – was responsible for his choice of university course.

He said: “After being in hospital care for so long I idolised all the doctors, nurses and physiotherapists I met. I ended up having massive respect for what they do and I just thought ‘why shouldn’t I do that for other people?’ 

“I wouldn’t change what’s happened to me but I’ve had this experience and I want to take something positive out of it and help improve the quality of other people’s lives.

“I knew from my personal experience and from meeting amputees that this was what I wanted to learn about. Coming to study Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Salford is the best move I’ve ever made – people are so supportive and it’s just perfect here for me.”

Gilly Mehraban from the University’s School of Health Science said: “For Archie to have gone through this experience and turn it into something positive is an inspiration to all of us, and it’s a real asset to have him here studying with us.”