University course brought Raj ‘back to life’
A student who was urged to go and live in a cooler climate after suffering a near-fatal blood clot to the brain as a schoolboy in India graduated from Edinburgh Napier University on his 21st birthday.
Raj Vora was floored by a rare form of stroke at the age of 16, which left him in a coma for more than a fortnight, in intensive care for a month and paralysed down the right side of his body.
He came to Scotland after doctors told his brother Nishidh, already settled in the UK, that the colder climate would be beneficial to Raj’s health as he recovered from the “venous sinus thrombosis”.
Despite losing more than four stones in weight, having to take a daily cocktail of drugs and 4.30am rises to commute from Glasgow to the capital for lectures, he threw himself into his studies at Edinburgh Napier.
And today, after being helped through his course by the university’s disability team, he graduated with a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering.
Raj said: “It has been a hard four years, involving large quantities of medication and injecting myself in the stomach hundreds of times to try to burst the remaining clot which I had in my brain.
“However, I have had plenty of support and I feel a tremendous sense of achievement on reaching the end of my academic journey. People are always complaining about the weather in Scotland, but I have every reason to be grateful for it.”
Raj took seriously ill in May 2014 while still at school in the city of Ahmedabad. Venous sinus thrombosis occurs when a clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses and prevents blood draining from the brain.
He said: “My mouth was totally closed, as if it had been glued, and my right side was totally paralysed.”
He was rushed to hospital and knew nothing more for almost three weeks, waking up with tubes covering his face and to the sight of a nurse cleaning his teeth.
“When my brother visited, doctors said to him that a cold place would be best for me, and I came to the UK to study at the end of 2014.
“In the months leading up to this I was taking 35 medicines a day and having MRI and CT scans, and even after getting to Scotland I still had issues with my memory which affected my studies.
“The four years have passed in a blur of studying, outside work commitments, travelling, taking medication and going to the doctor for check-ups, but I have finally got there. I feel as if I have been brought back to life.”
Raj has now returned to Ahmedabad to take up a job as an Assistant Product Development Executive and graduated in absentia.
Jenny Hall, Raj’s Disability Inclusion Adviser at the university, said: “I was delighted when I heard that Raj had successfully completed his studies and send him my warmest congratulations. He has shown great determination and persistence to reach his goal.”