A student who was diagnosed with the incurable condition, auto-immune liver disease, two years ago, was so struck by the difference good nursing can make, she is now embarking on her second year of a nursing degree at the University of Birmingham and plans to specialise in liver care.Nineteen year old Thaminah Chowdhury, who is originally from Bristol, had always been fit and healthy but began to feel unwell in August 2016.“I thought it was just a bug that would go away and thought that doing to the doctor would be a waste of time,” she explains. “The next thing I knew I had blacked out and been admitted to A and E where I was told that my liver functions were ‘deranged’ and I would need a liver biopsy.“When the results came through and I was told on September 22 that I had autoimmune liver disease, I felt like my whole world had been crushed. I could not explain the pain of being told you have a condition which means medication for the rest of your life. Returning to sixth form was really difficult. I felt so alone and just wanted to research more and more into auto-immune liver disease. That’s when I came across Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF). I dropped them a message and that was when, with their support, I slowly began to come to terms with my diagnosis. The staff there listened to me, understood and even sent an information pack to my school to show them how they could support me.“Sixth form was never easy, I would always dread my hospital appointments, I spent days at home resting because of the chronic fatigue and struggled to keep up in class.“Prior to this, although I was passionate about helping people, nursing had not been a career option for me. It was only when I was admitted to hospital and felt terrified and alone that I saw the difference good nursing really makes. There was a healthcare assistant who listened to me and gave me hope that things would get better. And there was also a nurse who did my blood tests (of which I was terrified) whom I could talk to about anything. They both inspired me to take up nursing.“In the end, despite my struggles, I received two A stars and an A in my A Levels. I have learnt that this condition only makes me work harder.
I was accepted to do nursing at the University of Birmingham which means gaining experience at the wonderful Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It so happened that my first placement was on the liver ward and meeting people with similar conditions to me has allowed me to finally accept having auto-immune liver disease. I’ve seen amazing things and even got to be part of a clinical trial. I am proud of who I have become today because without this condition I would not have realised my own potential as a fighter or met the beautiful patients and staff at QE or the wonderful people at CLDF.
“I still have my bad days with the struggles of the tiredness or the side effects of the medication. But I believe my experience will make me a better nurse. I know about the constant waiting for results, being scared about a procedure or a stay in hospital. I want to make patients feel safe and not alone.“I’m starting my second year’s training now and when I qualify I want to specialize in liver nursing. I have learnt that with a few adjustments you can live your life with my condition. If you keep fighting and you have the right support, anything is possible with a little hope and faith.”Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation commented: “Being diagnosed with a lifelong liver condition when you are so young is a distressing and potentially isolating experience which is why we provide a range of support for young people in this situation around the UK.
We are incredibly proud of Thaminah. Not only has she learnt to live with this condition, but she is determined to help other young people live with it too. I’m sure she will make a wonderful nurse and we wish her all the best in her training.”For more information on CLDF visit childliverdisease.org.