Teen secures Cambridge University place after sitting A-levels while fighting for life in hospital

Tejal spoke to ITV Central in August 2021 about how she contracted sepsis and how her studies and exams were a distraction from her time in hospital


A teenager who studied for her A-levels while fighting for her life in hospital has earned an offer to study at Cambridge University.

Tejal Paliya, who is from Littleover in Derby, almost died after contracting sepsis in March 2021 and was so ill that she had to take her exams in a side room at Royal Derby Hospital.

Nevertheless, she got four A* grades in her A-levels.

Speaking to ITV Central when she received her grades in August, Tejal said: "In mid-March, I fell ill with sepsis and it got worse over time so I had to be admitted to hospital.

"I didn't want to miss the exams so I had to sit the exams in hospital."

The 17-year-old's condition initially puzzled doctors as she showed symptoms of a fever, shivers and occasional fainting.

But ultimately she was admitted to A&E and eventually diagnosed with sepsis.

Tejal said taking her exams in hospital would be a welcome distraction from her treatment

Tejal told ITV Central: "Physically it was really challenging because I had blisters on my legs so I couldn't move a lot.

"At the beginning, I was not really happy with the situation like I was not feeling mentally well but with the help of the doctors, teachers, my family and friends - who I was in contact with always."

Tejal said: "I think felt confident over time that I would get better and I think then after two weeks, I woke up in the ICU, I felt that if I did the exam that would be a good way to distract me from the hospital environment."

She adds: "I didn’t know much about sepsis before, but from the little I knew, it was hard to accept it."

Staff at the Royal Derby Hospital gave her a guard of honour when, after 51 days in hospital, she was finally discharged.

She is not quite back to full fitness after spending 12 days in intensive care and 39 days in recovery, and she has faced the daunting task of learning to walk again after suffering from issues with her hands and feet.

She is still using aids to help her walk while she decides where to continue her studies.

Tejal was given a guard of honour by staff at the Royal Derby Hospital Credit: Royal Derby Hospital

Now, Tejal has received her dream offer to study at Cambridge University later this year.

The student, who achieved four A* grades after sitting her exams in a ward side room at the Royal Derby Hospital, has been offered a place at the prestigious Emmanuel College to study chemical engineering.

She also received an offer from Imperial College and dreams of following in her father’s footsteps to become an engineer.

"Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an engineer. Science has always been my favourite subject," she said.

Tejal, who moved to Derby from India after her father’s job saw the family relocate, decided to sit her A-levels a year earlier than usual after reading through textbooks during lockdown.