STELLENBOSCH University student Andrew Steiner, who was on the operating table last week, will graduate with a Master’s in chemical engineering.
A  week ago, Andrew Steiner was on the operating table, but today he will graduate with a Master’s degree in chemical engineering from Stellenbosch University.

Steiner said he begged the doctor to hold off on the operation last Friday, thinking he would miss the ceremony as a result.

He had a brain tumour in 2017, has undergone six brain surgeries since the diagnosis, but that did not let the “interruption” deter him from completing his studies.

The diagnosis had brought his studies to a standstill a year into his Master’s degree, as he spent a lot of time in the hospital.

“It was a benign tumour, so I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or anything, but I had six brain surgeries all together. Then fluid leaked into my neck and they had to operate that, and then I contracted meningitis, twice.”

Steiner said the surgery he had last Friday was to replace a ventriculoperitoneal shunt, which was inserted to regulate the flow of spinal fluid as his pathways were damaged.

“My shunt broke and the doctor said it was the second time that he had seen that in 10 years, so it’s very rare. I was actually really upset because I thought I would miss the graduation ceremony. I was hoping they would turn down the flow of the spinal fluid and unfortunately, the only option was to take it out, so Friday evening I was in theatre.”

He said the bulk of the operations were in 2017 and in 2018.

“I still was not 100% but was pretty close to back to normal On Friday, I was nauseous as there was too much pressure in my head and it was not looking good, but the crazy thing is, I am graduating.”

He said he valued the support of his family.

“It’s been pretty hectic for them but they have been supportive, especially my mom. She and my 21-year-old sister helped me a lot,” he said.

Steiner said he was researching Furfural, an organic chemical that is used in make-up, fuel and lycra. He wanted to see how it could be made more cost-effective.