Junior Gaurav Bhatnagar conquers life with one working lung and 100 goals

Corrections: 4/10/19 at 10:13 am. Graf nine, line one: “[STI]” to “[SLI]”

High school is filled with barriers that can hold students back, and many struggle to overcome them. For junior Gaurav Bhatnagar, his obstacle is having a lung that could collapse at any point. However, he has a positive attitude and excels academically.  

Bhatnagar has a unique condition called spontaneous pneumothorax, which is when weak spots on the lung rupture unexpectedly and induce a lung collapse without any definite cause.

Bhatnagar’s lung has collapsed a total of four times. His first experience was in 2017 during his AP European History class. On his way home from school that day, Bhatnagar realized something was wrong. His right arm was cold and he was turning blue.

“Being hospitalized is all around pretty depressing. You’re connected to monitors and in my case, a vacuum, so you’re effectively bedridden,” Bhatnagar said.

Bhatnagar described that the ability to move his limbs while in the hospital was reduced from the numerous IVs he was connected to. He has been struggling with flare ups in his condition ever since.

“The experience contains some self-realization too. It always makes me think, ‘What a weird experience I’ve had!’” Bhatnagar said.

Nonetheless, Bhatnagar has kept an optimistic outlook and appreciates his life.

Despite his setback, Bhatnagar is a high-achieving student who is currently taking five AP courses. He believes that challenging himself and trying new things will broaden his horizons. Bhatnagar participates in school clubs, such as Girls Make Games, and is a part of the STEM Leadership Institute program. Currently, he is one of the leaders for his robotics team, Deja Vu.

“It [SLI] opened a lot of avenues for me and let me grow as a leader and an individual. I wouldn’t be so level-headed without it,” Bhatnagar said.

Music is one of Bhatnagar’s several interests. He combines his interest in STEM with his love for music by creating devices that help him experience the latter better. After one of his headsets broke, Bhatnagar made his own amplifiers, which according to Bhatnagar, sound much better than a phone or computer.

“I can drop afternoons just with Spotify and my headphones,” Bhatnagar said.

Bhatnagar’s closest friends jokingly gave him the nickname “One Lung.” They are always there for him and continue to support him.

My friends have helped me bring stuff to my classes, going out of their way to help me,” Bhatnagar said. “I’m indebted to them for being such a close-knit, supportive group.”

Looking to his future, Bhatnagar would like to pursue multiple degrees to fulfill his love for various subjects. Even with his lung condition, he still continues to try new things and remains open about what will come in his life.

“I love the concept of being a Renaissance man,” Bhatnagar said. “But who knows, maybe I’ll be doing something completely different.”