Medical student fulfills promise to beloved daughter

29 November 2023

It was a promise to her dying daughter that set Preeti Raghwani on a path to studying medicine at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

She took the hand of Ziya, who at just 20 months died from an extremely rare form of mitochondrial disease, and promised her she would make a difference in this world as she said her final goodbye.

Three years later—after tears, soul searching and a lot of hard work—Preeti is now fulfilling that promise as a first-year medical student at Notre Dame in Fremantle.

“I felt really robbed of the years I didn’t get with Ziya and I made a promise to her that I would change one life at a time and give back the years I had lost to other people,” Preeti said.

“That is where it all started. It was that moment when Ziya passed that I decided I wanted to do something with what I had and really empower myself.”

Ziya was born completely deaf but was tracking well developmentally until she started having severe seizures at about two months old.

After repeated tests and hospital stints, doctors finally diagnosed her with mitochondrial disease—a genetic disorder that robs the body’s cells of energy, causing multiple organs to dysfunction or fail.

Ziya’s form of mitochondrial disease was so rare she was believed to be one of only 11 children worldwide to suffer from it, and the only child in Australia.

In the years since Ziya passed Preeti has turned her tremendous heartbreak into resolute determination to give back to the community and help others through medicine.

Preeti, who worked as a physiotherapist for about 10 years, was drawn to Notre Dame because of the university’s strong focus on rural health and its holistic approach to medicine.

“I have a lot of experience as a health professional but also as the mother of a child who has spent a lot of time in hospital,” Preeti said. “Medicine at Notre Dame is very much the way I could see myself practicing, so I just knew it was where I was meant to be. I needed to thrive in an environment that would allow me to do that.”

Despite everything Preeti, her husband Janesh and her daughter Mahi, 7, have gone through, she still believes she is lucky because she has been given another chance, and while she still has a lot of hard work ahead of her, she will always be motivated by Ziya and the battles she faced during her short life.

University of Notre Dame Australia medical students walking in front of the hospital
Learn more about the Doctor of Medicine at The University of Notre Dame Australia

The University of Notre Dame Australia Doctor of Medicine

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a 4-year postgraduate program open to students from a wide range of undergraduate degrees.

The aim of the program is to produce doctors who are excellent clinicians who are able to practice in a variety of clinical settings. Graduates will be committed to lifelong learning through reflective practice, engagement in research, and demonstration in highly developed clinical skills and judgment in the context of evidence-based practice.

The first 2 years of your degree are underpinned by problem-based learning (PBL) and include the study of basic clinical sciences, population and preventive health, bioethics, therapeutics, and more.

Program: Doctor of Medicine 
Location: Fremantle (Western Australia) or Sydney (New South Wales)
Intake: January / February
Duration: 4 years

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Would you like to learn more about Doctor of Medicine program at The University of Notre Dame Australia Medical School? Please contact OzTREKK’s Medicine Admissions Officer at for more information.