Crowdfunded medical graduate works hard to fight off coronavirus

Crowdfunded medical graduate works hard to fight off coronavirus

Retshidisitswe ‘Tshidi’ Kotane, a medical graduate, is one of the health workers at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic. She shares her experience with us.

Retshidisitswe Kotane
Retshidisitswe Kotane/ Provided

Medical practitioners around the world are working hard to put an end to the coronavirus that has led to the deaths of thousands of people. 

In South Africa, the Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that there are 17,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday May 19. The virus has also claimed the lives of over 300 South Africans. 

Tshidi is one of many healthcare workers working in the frontlines of the pandemic.

The 25-year-old recently graduated from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School. She is currently employed as a Clinical Associate at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases as part of the response team to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Being called to come and be part of the response team to the COVID19 pandemic was like being called to be part of the starting 11 for the national. A truly exciting moment for me. I had never imagined starting off my career like this. I get to step in and out my scope of practice and learn so much at the same time. This is one amazing opportunity, that'll always be the highlight of my career.”

Tshidi missed three of her graduation ceremonies because of unpaid fees. She owed Wits University R95,000. Miraculously, in 2019, Feenix - a student crowd funding platform - settled her debt. 

“When I received the email that I had reached my funding goal for 2019 from Feenix, I could not believe it. I honestly thought it was a joke or that I had been sent the wrong email. I was in so much disbelief that I did not waste any time; I went to check my fee statement and immediately afterwards I went to register with the HPCSA. It was a life changing moment for me.”

The Clinical Associate says her biggest motivation for getting into the medical field was to help people from all walks of life.

She says this desire came after she lost her grandmother and uncle. 

“I knew from a very young age that I wanted to help people, make them feel better and make a difference in their lives in whichever way I could. My late great grandma's feet used to swell up quite a lot and as a result she could move around as much, and she was a very hard-working lady - her feet swelling would hinder her from performing certain tasks.  And I wanted to know how I could help make her feet stop swelling.  

“Later on, as I was growing, I learned that my uncle has Down Syndrome and later lost his eyesight. This was quite heart breaking for me because we were very close, and this meant he could no longer be able to see me. And at that moment I knew I wanted to go into the medical field and help people, families and communities that have loved ones who suffer from any medical condition.”


Retshidisitswe is now working hard to ensure that South Africans don’t lose their lives because of COVID-19. 

She says people need to understand that the coronavirus can be defeated, only if they unite in the fight against the pandemic. 

“This fight is not only for healthcare providers. It is for everyone; we need to work together… we can achieve so much more if we are united.

“My message to the people at home...I'm going to quote our President Cyril Ramaphosa when he said that, ‘No action is too small when it comes to change the world.’ By staying at home, practicing social distancing, the correct cough etiquette, hand sanitizing and practicing proper hygiene, you are already making a huge difference during this global pandemic, by protecting yourself and people around you.  And I'd like to quote him further and say, "we will conquer, and we will prevail".

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