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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Family of Dubai pupil who died of flu complications urge public not to take sickness lightly 

Alia Ali's brother says he does not want another family to go through what they did

Alia died after fluids built up in her lungs and heart two weeks after she contracted the flu. Courtesy Ali Family
Alia died after fluids built up in her lungs and heart two weeks after she contracted the flu. Courtesy Ali Family

The brother of a Dubai school pupil who died from complications that developed a week after contracting the flu is urging families to ensure their children are vaccinated.

Alia Niyaz Ali, an Indian from Kerala, was admitted to Rashid Hospital on Tuesday after complaining of chest and stomach pain. By the evening, the Grade 12 pupil was dead.

Speaking to The National after her funeral on Wednesday, Alia’s brother, Aman Ali, his 17-year-old sister as energetic and a joy to be around.

“My sister was no ordinary kid. She was a beautiful young girl always full of life. She was a bundle of joy always fooling around.”

He appealed to families to vaccinate their children, seek immediate medical help when patients do not recover and always ask doctors for more information if symptoms persist.

“I want to make sure people understand the seriousness of the flu virus. It is not to be taken lightly. It may start off with a few symptoms but you never know what it could evolve into. I want to spread the word to make sure no other kid goes through what my sister went through,” Mr Ali, 23, said.

Alia, second right, with her four siblings at her eldest sister Fehmina’s wedding. Her brother Aman is dressed in a black suit. Courtesy Ali family. 
Alia, second right, with her four siblings at her eldest sister Fehmina’s wedding. Her brother Aman is dressed in a black suit. Courtesy Ali family. 

Describing his sister generally healthy with no medical issues, he said that about a week ago was the first time in a long time that Alia was taken to see a doctor.

She visited a clinic in Al Qusais near their home in Abu Hail after her flu symptoms appeared to develop into those of a viral infection.

“It started as a normal flu for which you would probably take a paracetamol and it would clear up,” he said.

“Then it started showing symptoms of a viral infection when she started coughing, vomiting and feeling nauseous. We went to a clinic and got the necessary treatment done.”

Doctors prescribed Alia antibiotics and the symptoms of fever and vomiting subsided. Mr Ali said she seemed “perfectly normal and was physically active too.”

But on Tuesday afternoon, things took a turn for the worse as she began complaining of chest and stomach pain. This worried the family who took her to Rashid Hospital instead.

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“The chest and stomach pain was odd because it was not something you would expect when all the other symptoms had gone away. When we took her to the hospital, she even walked in. We decided to take her to Rashid Hospital because they were better equipped than a clinic near our house,” Mr Ali said.

Tests at the hospital revealed fluid build-up in Alia’s heart and stomach. As she struggled with the pain, she asked her father to blow on her forehead, a practice her brother described as common among Muslims from Kerala after making a prayer to Allah.

At 8pm, her blood pressure dropped dramatically.

“Her last words to our father were, ‘Powa, please blow on me’,” her brother said.

“The fluid blocked her heart and her blood pressure started coming down severely. She started choking, doctors tried to revive her and that was the end of my sister.”

The family was told that the fluid build-up was “incredibly rare” for a person of Alia’s age. They are reeling from her sudden death but the death of another young pupil after an acute viral infection has prompted the family to speak.

“This is something that happened just a few weeks ago to a nine-year-old going to Our Own Indian School,” Mr Ali said.

“People need to protect themselves, get vaccinated and checked. This is definitely not something that you can cure yourself. It’s not something that just goes away. You don’t realise it until it’s too late and that’s when the complications happen. I buried my sister with my own hands this morning and as a brother that’s all I can say.”