Meet Sandra Khumalo

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Sandra, Paralympian Rower

It’s hard not to be inspired by Sandra Khumalo

But you’d expect that from a Paralympian rower, mother of two, and full-time patient support and training assistant at Convatec in Johannesburg, South Africa. As well as training nurses and doctors on how to use GentleCath™ with FeelClean™ Technology, her role is also to “help inspire and motivate newly disabled people in rehab centers”, she says.

The calm reassurance Sandra shares with people comes from her own experience. At 22, she was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. “It was very scary at first”, she says of learning how to use an intermittent catheter. “Back then, I couldn’t see myself where I am today. I felt it was the end.”

In some ways, however, it was just the beginning. Sandra was introduced to rowing and did not look back. “I found my legs again in the rowing boat.” She excelled as a champion rower and qualified for the South African Paralympic rowing team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and then for Rio 2016, where a familiar problem re-occurred.

She’d been using reusable catheters and had been struggling with regular urinary tract infections (UTIs), one of which she got two days before she was due to race. “My body got very weak and, I couldn’t perform how I wanted to”, she says. “I managed to raise myself enough to finish 10th.”

It was a bitter result for Sandra, who had ambitions to rank in the top 5. True to form, though, she wasn’t deterred and finished 5th in the World Championships in Sarasota, Florida, the following year.

Around the same time, Sandra was introduced to something else she says made a big change in her life. After experimenting with other hydrophilic catheters, she found GentleCath™ with FeelClean™ Technology. “It was like, wow, I had less pain, and my problems with regular UTIs were gone.”

She also found another passion – her work supporting people at the beginning of their own self-catheterization journey. “I am so passionate now about touching and changing people’s lives. I want to help them experience the same change that I did in my life.”

"A good day for me is to walk out of a hospital or rehab center and leave people with hope and focus on what they can still do, regardless of the change they’re going through with their bodies. Seeing the smiling faces is what motivates me every day."

Advice & Support from Sandra

"Getting into good habits"