Your shout: Overcoming adversity with Dr Dinesh Palipana

Queensland’s first quadriplegic doctor won’t let his disability stop him from making a difference.

At 25 years of age and halfway through his medical degree, Dinesh Palipana was involved in a single vehicle crash near Brisbane’s Gateway Motorway.

While Dinesh can’t remember much of what happened next, he knew something wasn’t right when he couldn’t feel his legs. Dinesh woke up in the Princess Alexandra

Hospital to discover he was the patient rather than the doctor.

From day one of his rehabilitation, Dinesh’s mum Chithrani Palipana was there to support him.

“Mum was really strong, and she still is to this day – she’s a powerhouse,” Dinesh said. 

“Anything I’ve wanted to do, she’s always been the one to say that its possible and she hasn’t ever said that its impossible.”

After the accident, Dinesh still knew he belonged in medicine but wasn’t sure how to approach it with his disability. His teachers helped him make the decision and in 2015 he went back to university with renewed determination.

“From day one, I took it so seriously – I think I had more focus than I’d ever had in my whole life,” he said.

“I felt like I had more energy to do those things, so I really put my head down.”

Dinesh has since finished his studies and works in the emergency department at Gold Coast Hospital.

While his journey to become a doctor has been far from easy, his experiences have given him new perspective. 

“Every time I’m faced with a patient, whether it be challenging or not, I’m often anchored by how I felt back then,” Dinesh said.

“As a patient you feel powerless and you feel scared and alone, so whenever I walk into a patient’s room, I always anchor myself in those memories and try to take time to just talk and ask about them a little bit.

“I really want to know what they’re feeling, what they’ve gone through and how I can help.

“It’s a human profession so if you don’t have the human aspect to it then I don’t think you’ve got much business there.”

Listen to more from Dr Dinesh Palipana below.

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