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Beyond the ward: Saving lives

Final year medical students, Safya Saleem and Hani Hassan, recently saved a man's life whilst walking home from a placement shift at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Long-standing friendship

Safya and Hani are both final year medical students in the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine and have both truly enjoyed their experience of studying at King’s. They  met and became friends in their first year and have been friends now for almost six years, three of which were spent as clinical partners.

We’ve definitely been through a lot together.– Safya Saleem

Acting quickly

Safya and Hani were on placement at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospital for the majority of their final year. After a Friday morning on the surgical ward rounds, both were walking back to their accommodation when they heard a noise and out of the corner of their eye, saw someone fall over. Running over, they could easily tell that he wasn’t well.

He was unconscious, not breathing, and there was no palpable pulse. Hani immediately called 999 while I started chest compressions.– Safya Saleem

They carried on with the CPR, taking it in turns, for about three to four minutes until the paramedics arrived and took over, eventually using a defibrillator on the man before seeing any signs of improvement. When they took him to the hospital, the girls gave the paramedics their phone numbers so that they could be updated on the situation.

Shortly afterwards the paramedic called to say that the patient had made it to hospital, he had regained consciousness enough to confirm his name and date of birth, and had then been taken for revascularisation - a treatment used to reopen the blocked coronary vessels that had caused his heart attack.


Life-saving behaviour

That paramedic told Safya and Hani that the CPR they’d done had been extremely effective and most certainly had saved this man’s life. That evening and over the weekend, they heard that the man had survived the procedure and was recovering well.  

The lady on the phone pointed out that we had saved a heart on Valentine’s Day! We spoke to the cardiology consultant, Dr Derek Harrington, about the event afterwards, and he congratulated us on our ‘calm approach and lifesaving treatment’. We also had emails from Professor Tim Lancaster, Dean of Medical Education, and Dr Sam Thenabadu, Deputy Dean and Head of Stage 3, expressing how proud of us they were.– Safya Saleem

Meeting the patient

It turns out that he had been visiting his wife who was an inpatient at the time, who coincidentally Safya had visited on her ward rounds that very morning. She went to meet the patient to see how he was doing; fortunately, he recovered remarkably well, and was discharged about a week after his admission. 

What is remarkable about this story is the timing. Had we passed that petrol station a few moments later then we may have missed him…– Safya Saleem
Medical students sometimes tell us that they feel concerned about asking patients to help them in their learning, at times when those patients are feeling unwell and worried. We know, though, that medical students who are compassionate, sensitive and well trained can make positive contributions to patient care. This is a wonderful, and dramatic, example of students using their learning to help another human being in the most direct and beneficial of ways. GKT is very proud of the composure and competence shown by Hani and Safya in this moment of extreme pressure.– Professor Tim Lancaster, Dean of Medical Education

In this story

Sam Thenabadou

MBBS Programme Director

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