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Medical question

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Kirk, Oct 29, 2001.

  1. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Hello everyone... I have a medical question for any of you Docs/docs to be.

    In my biology class is a young (probably 18 or 19) black female. I have helped tutor her in chemistry, as she is a freshman and I have had plenty of chemistry. She is also a pre-med and very intelligent, and hard working... She also has to carry around a backpack that contains oxygen which runs though a line into a hole in her throat (it runs into a plastic band that goes around her neck). She is always coughing (every few minutes) and has had to go home from lab before because her chest was hurting her.

    It makes me sad, and I hope she will be able to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, but I am curious what could be wrong with her. After we had been talking one day about school and studying and medicine, ect I ventured to ask her what was wrong with her lungs, and all she said was that they were "shot". I was guessing that maybe she had cystic fibrosis, but since she didn't offer any more information I didn't want to ask.

    So basically, does anyone know what my friend may have, and is there any chance that she could make it undergrad and medical school with a disability like that? Thanks for any thoughts/info!

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  3. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    Likes Received:
    One possibility is sarcoidosis, which can cause severe pulmonary symtoms like you have described and is much more common in the African-American population than other groups. It is an inflammatory disease that not much is known about which can cause granulomatous lesions in many organs. The lungs are often the first to be affected.

    Another possibility is that she has sickle cell disease and has had pulmonary infarcts as a result. This disease is almost exclusively in blacks and has a relatively high prevalence.

    Cystic fibrosis is possible, but much more likely in a young person of northern european descent.

    I'm sure there are many other more obscure congenital conditions which could lead to this. But the above two seem more likely.

    I'm sure she can do well in undergrad. Unfortunately, I would think she would have a very difficult time keeping up with the long hours and heavy workload of clinical rotations. I'm not saying its impossible, just extremely difficult. I wish her the best.

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