‘Covid-19 is everyone’s fight’

Dr Leila Amien in her medical scrubs before work.

It’s been a baptism of fire for 26-year-old Leila Amien, a newly qualified doctor from Rondebosch East, who is now at the front line of the fight against one of the worst pandemics in human history.

Dr Amien graduated from Stellenbosch University in December with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. She has been doing her internship at Tygerberg Hospital since the beginning of the year. This month, she started work in the hospital’s Covid-19 unit.

Her colleagues in the unit are at the top of their game, she says.

“Seeing them exercise and perform their different skills set in a professional, structured, calm and orderly manner leaves me with a sense of confidence that, challenges apart, patients infected with the Covid-19 virus are in good hands.”

Like other health-care workers caught up in the fight, Dr Amien is all too aware of the risks and fears getting infected and passing the virus on to her parents, whom she lives with.

“Every time I draw bloods or examine the Covid-19 patient, I cannot help but feel a great sense of fear, even behind my personal protective equipment (PPE), but I soon realised that my fear must be nothing in comparison to the fear of the patient in an isolated room with no family or friends to see, and faced with a virus that has caused deaths and destruction worldwide.”

Dr Amien has been helping people long before she graduated. She has helped to raise nearly R500 000, since 2015, for Operation Smile with an annual Fives Futbol tournament fund-raiser in aid of the non-profit’s work, providing free reconstructive surgery for those with facial deformities.

Despite her studies, practical training, work with Smile and experiences in the hospital trauma room, Dr Amien says nothing could have prepared her adequately for this global pandemic.

“It’s a virus that still baffles the greatest minds, and one that has killed so many people globally in a short space of time.”

But she has a passion for her work and is determined, she says, to do it to the best of her ability despite the dangers.

She has a lot of praise for those she works with in the Covid-19 unit.

“I have the opportunity to work alongside these brilliant doctors and learn from not only their academic knowledge but their calmness in the face of a challenging time.”

When she’s not working, she spends time with her parents, listens to music, watches movies, and chats to friends online. And while fighting Covid-19 is serious business, Dr Amien hasn’t lost her sense of humour.

“I’ve always taken pleasure in teasing and pranking my friends, so now I have taken the liberty of pranking my parents and posting it on social media to lighten others spirits.”She says the fight against Covid-19 is everybody’s fight; we all have a role play to stop the virus spreading.

“Obey the lockdown rules and regulations,” she says.

“In addition, wash your hands regularly, adhere to physical distancing, wear masks, and stay indoors.”