Wednesday, February 21, 2007

R.I.P. Laura Case

Right after my last post on medics who entered their profession because they really cared about changing lives, it seems another one of them has been taken away from us.

It has just come to our attention that the British student in this article from The Times was a medical student at Jesus College doing her elective in rural Uganda. Laura Alexandra Case, 24, was killed in a road accident last Sunday. From her project description, forwarded to us by our Director of Studies, it can be seen that Laura truly wanted to make a difference in a part of the world with serious deficiencies in healthcare:
As part of my final year of medical studies at UCL I have the exciting opportunity to spend two month in a hospital anywhere in the world. The hospital I have chosen is situated in rural, South Western Uganda, near the Rwandan border.

This will be a fantastic opportunity to see medicine practiced under very different conditions and constraints to those I have encounter in the UK, as well as introducing me to a very different disease spectrum to that which I have gained experience in so far in my training. The hospital’s staff to patient ratio is incredibly small by western standards, with approximately 5 doctors for 200 medical beds. In this setting medical students provide much needed support to the consultants and I am very much looking forward to the challenge of a far greater level of responsibility in comparison to that which I have in the UK. (Source: Laura Case's project description)
Laura was also involved in research that would help the hospital prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, in a hospital where the inpatient rate of HIV is nearly 40%.

It is my firm belief, whatever her religious beliefs were, that she is in a better place. A far better place.

Rest in peace, Laura.


medstudentitis said...

Wow, what an incredibly sad and preventable occurance.

Faith Walker said...

Thats terrible,
Her goals sounded very worthwhile and she clearly cared a great deal.

I agree with you though, she is in a FAR better place.

the little medic said...

Such a shame and waste of a life :(

Dan said...

we must carry on the fight.

HospitalPhoenix said...

Sorry to hear about this. In our first week of medical school we were told that statisically, one of us would die during the course. And one student did indeed. It's always a tragedy.

(off topic - I've recently been having difficulty opening the comment windows in your blog, they crash out before the page has loaded... probably a problem at my end though...)

Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

Truly sorry--very sad, indeed. (And you're right, she is in a better place...)

Cathy said...

That is very sad and seems so unfair.

Cal said...

That's tragic. Something similar happened at another medical school, I think a girl in her final year died in an RTA too.
So sad.

zewt said...

sorry to hear about this tragedy... may she rest in peace.

adam said...

My condolences go out to her family.

Shinga said...

Whenever people tell me that altruism has disappeared and that everybody is obsessed by the material, I think of people like this remarkable young woman.

Thanks for highlighting her story.

Regards - Shinga

SeaSpray said...

I am sorry to hear the sad news about the young doctor. She sounds like she was a blessing to many.

How noble of you A.M. to choose an area with such difficult working conditions/risks. You, too - will be a blessing to so many and will come away from the experience having learned much and gaining new insights that will bring a depth and richness to your future medical endeavors. 5-200 doc/pt ratio? Wow! It would seem that after working under those conditions that anything less will seem like a day at the beach in comparison.

I am really behind in reading/commenting on The Apprentice and will catch up soon. :)

The Angry Medic said...

Thanks so much for your comments, guys. It makes me thankful that the Internet can remember someone who was killed in a mindless and random road accident somewhere so remote that she might otherwise never be remembered for all the good she hoped to achieve, and all she could have achieved.

SeaSpray: Oh no, that project description wasn't mine, it was hers. I am however considering doing my elective somewhere in Africa, but I doubt I could ever be as fully altruistic as Laura Case was. I'm a lot more cynical, and such is the trend these days -- which makes people like Laura all the more valuable.

Yes, I noticed you were a bit behind on your Apprentice blogging. Come back to the fold soon!

Anonymous said...

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Emily said...

I didn't know Laura, but her boyfriend is a good friend of my brother's, and I just heard the tragic news this evening. As you have all pointed out, this is a terrible waste of a life, & I would like to extend my deep sympathy to her family, friends & boyfriend of 2 years.

I have recently returned from working in Sierra Leone. I'm not a doctor but I work in international development & can assure you that every single one of you would be welcomed with open arms in almost any African hospital. Your skills & knowledge are sorely needed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your mention of Laura and her project -- I am glad someone did. She was a friend of mine at UCL and words cannot describe how shocked and saddened we are by her passing.

Its unfortunate UCL did not show the same compassion and class as Cambridge. Here at UCL we are merely faceless barcodes and seen as a nuisance to the administration. This was the only mention of Laura's death, via email:

"It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of one of our final year medical students, Laura Case, who was involved in a fatal road accident in Kampala on Sunday while returning from her elective.

Our thoughts and condolences are with Laura’s family, whose privacy we respect.

Professor Spyer and Professor Dacre "

I am happy knowing at least someone has given her work and dedication more than two sentences worth of attention.

Thank you angry medic (and your director of studies) for posting her project description.

She was truly a special person and she will be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

I also knew Laura both at Cambridge and UCL. She was always the life and soul and had a wonderfully dry sense of humour. She was very passionate about becoming a doctor and helping others but always extremely modest and took it all in her stride.

My sincerest condolences to her family.

Rest in peace Laura.

The Angry Medic said...

Emily: Whoa, I never expected to hear from people who actually knew Laura. I never had the pleasure of knowing her, but from all your comments she sounded like a wonderful person. She must be if she chose to go lend a helping hand in a part of the world where she was sorely needed.

The same can be said of you. I applaud doctors like you and Laura who genuinely care about the improvement of medical systems in the Third World. You give me hope that the altruism on which the medical profession was founded so long ago is not dead.

Anonymous Friends of Laura: Like I said above, I never expected anyone who knew Laura to read this blog, and I am very honoured that you took the time to write here. It was indeed very noble of my Director of Studies to pass on her project description to us; as much as it saddened me to hear that we've lost such a paragon of altruism, it restored my faith that there are still pure-of-heart doctors out there.

I will pass your wishes on to my Director of Studies. Thanks again, and my sympathies on your loss; she must have been a wonderful friend.

Anonymous said...

I am not a medic but was a long time friend of Laura, Don't paint too much of the Florence Nightingale or patronise her as vulnerable - she was only as vulnerable as the next 24 year old.
She was of course committed as most medics are, but she was fun and feisty and could take out most bumptious boys in a fair verbal fight.

But she was really pissed off over three issues. The poor supervision of her course at UCl both at the centre and hospital level, the useless planning by the Dept of Health for the demand for doctors and the rotten and dangerous newly intoduced scheme for junior doctor selection.

So do not just sit on your arses. Poke your fingers in the eys of poor supervisors and administrators. Write to your MP and be a bloody nuisance over doctor planning and selection. Go on the March on 17th March to protest with the junior doctors. Tell your friends. Its your lives that it is about.

Compassion is fine but Laura would have wanted you to fight. Stick a card in front of the complacent - 'Laura Case died because she cared enough to be a doctor.'

Anon said...

I have only just found this blog and am touched by the many postings from medics and friends. I was in Uganda with Laura and was there when she was tragically killed last February. She was, as everyone has said a great person and wonderful friend.
Having not been badly injured in the crash myself, every day I now go to work as an F1 and try to remember that we are all doing this for a reason and actually, in spite of all the annoyances, political, bureaucratic and otherwise, and sometimes the downright crap that we all face everyday what matters is infact, that we're here and able to do it. We're here and able to help and if need be able to fight those who sometimes hinder us.
So good luck to all who are clawing their way through medical school and to all that have already made it, thy work shall never be done!!
But for Laura, may she rest in peace.