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Dinesh Palipana Becomes QLD’s First Quadriplegic Medical Intern

Dinesh Palipana was one of the best interns to have ever graduated from the Griffith School of Medicine, excelling in his chosen field of study despite having the additional challenge of being quadriplegic.

Dr Palipana was halfway through his medical degree when his life changed irrevocably one rainy night in 2010. In the poor conditions his car aquaplaned as he was driving across Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge, and as he lost control of his car it rolled down an embankment. In and out of consciousness, Dinesh eventually woke up several days later to find himself in a hospital bed in Brisbane, a very concerned mother by his side.

Dinesh suffered a severe combination of injuries. His spine had been dislocated at the neck and his spinal cord was squashed – shutting down any feeling of movement in his body from the neck down. His chest had also been crushed, and doctors fought to stabilise him by clearing his lungs. In total, Dinesh would spend a long seven months in hospital, moving out of intensive care into the spinal unit.

Despite all of this Dinesh was determined to complete his studies and graduate into the medical career he had worked so hard to position himself for. Five years after his accident he returned to the School of Medicine with the full and unconditional support of the university and its professors. Without skipping a beat he continued to pass his subjects with excellent grades, graduating in 2016.

He has since undertaken two years of clinical rotations at Gold Coast University Hospital, and also received honours during his time at Harvard University’s teaching hospital. As of 2016 Dinesh has officially become Queensland’s first quadriplegic intern, and his dream is to become a radiologist after his internship is complete.

Dr Palipana is a wonderful example of what we can achieve when we set goals for ourselves and work tirelessly to make them happen.

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