Forensic dentist Selina Leow had her arm amputated after a cancer diagnosis – now she’s helping the community as a Westmead Hospital buggy driver

It seems impossible to believe when speaking with Selina Leow that one person can have so many incredible achievements and passions.

Selina was a keynote speaker at the recent Volunteer Week awards at Westmead Hospital, and while you may see her zipping around the grounds as a buggy driver, it’s likely that you’ll come across her in her many other posts.

“I am also a staff member here at Westmead Hospital as a forensic dentist – or technically speaking, a forensic odontologist. I also have a number of national and international roles, such as working with the Australian Federal Police. So I wear a few hats!” she said.

Selina is a volunteer speaker for University of Sydney, a buggy driver and buggy convenor at Westmead Hospital, trained in forensic dentistry at this very hospital (some 30 years ago), and is even the chairperson of the forensic odontology sub-working group for INTERPOL (the International Criminal Police Organisation).

This has all come while dealing with the recent amputation of her arm.

“In April 2020, I was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer in my wrist,” Selina said, “and unfortunately the only treatment option was amputation. So, I had my right hand, wrist and forearm amputated. Sadly, this meant that I had to stop treating patients clinically in general practice.

“The roles that I have been afforded, such as volunteering, have returned a sense of purpose.

“The tenacity I have, I was able to apply in another positive way – which really protected my mental health. This sort of news for a lot of people who are experiencing limb loss is not something they can always deal with very well – particularly, when it was career ending for me.”

Adapting to life retraining her non-dominant hand has brought challenges ranging from re-learning to write to having to change the type of earrings she wears.

Selina says that the opportunity to drive the buggy has been empowering and a great way to continue to be involved with WSLHD.

“I started volunteering at Westmead Hospital in February this year – I am loving this role. I love the atmosphere and the ability to give back to my community,” Selina said.

“As the hospital is so big, I love being a buggy driver so I can help patients who aren’t able to walk long distances to get around.

“Westmead Hospital feels a bit like home.”