Inspirational student who twice battled sepsis receives First Class degree

One of our recent graduates Kishan Vithlani has twice overcome a potentially life-threatening sepsis infection and gone on to achieve a First Class Computer Science BSc.

Kishan was born with a congenital heart condition, and had to have surgery twice as a child. Overcoming these medical setbacks, he started studying for his course at the University of Leicester in September 2014.

However, during his degree, Kishan was diagnosed with sepsis twice, which led to an extended period in hospital, and having to learn how to walk again.

Sepsis is a rare but serious condition that occurs when the body's response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs.

Kishan said: "The first time the sepsis started with a massive rash. I woke up one day with a great pain in my leg and I was unable to get out of bed. After that, my temperature rose to 40-plus and I don’t remember much about A&E.

"At the start of November that year, I got sepsis again for the second time, however this time, it was a lot worse and the recovery was not as fast. The second time was similar, except I was watching TV and was unable to stand and get up from the sofa.”

After the second time he had sepsis, which put him in the hospital for five weeks and intensive care for two weeks, Kishan had to learn how to walk again.

"I had to have intense physiotherapy for a couple of months before I was even able to use crutches. It took me until March 2016 to be able to walk properly again. A whole four months after I left hospital,” he said.

Once his walking had improved, Kishan retuned to Leicester to start his second year of study, and found new friends in the University’s Hindu Society.

"Luckily, I was given a role on the committee, and from this I was able to make good friends with the other committee members”, he added.

Two years later, on 20 July 2018, Kishan received a First Class BSc in Computer Science - maintaining a first class average in both his second and final years.

After tweeting a picture of himself at graduation, where he explained his journey alongside the caption ‘Never Give up!’ the post went viral, and Buzzfeed News got in touch with Kishan so that he could share his uplifting story more widely.

Kishan said: “I was quite shocked, as I did not expect my tweet to reach so many people. It is quite an overwhelming feeling and still feels pretty surreal but I am happy I have been able to inspire and motivate so many.

“I would like to say thank you to the staff at Glenfield Hospital and also my friends and family, but most importantly my parents, as without them none of this would’ve been possible.”

Kishan will be starting his new role as a junior software developer in the next few weeks.

“The role will be at Dion Global Solutions, a firm that creates software for the financial sector, with the Leicester branch that I will be working at focusing on Wealth Management,” he added.

Dr Paula Dobrowolski, Head of the University of Leicester’s AccessAbility Centre, said: “It has been inspiring to see the determination which Kishan has shown as he has worked hard to achieve his tremendous degree success.  Academic staff in the Department of Informatics, and colleagues in the AccessAbility Centre have been supportive but the work, and the achievement, is Kishan’s. I wish him every success in his future career.”