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Jolamma Varghese Sebastian at the blood donation centre in Latifa Hospital to mark World Blood Donation Day, earlier. Sebastian passed away last Monday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Community volunteers and employees of Dubai Blood Donation Centre, who identify themselves as “Dubai’s blood donation family”, are mourning the death of an Indian laboratory technician, who waked the extra mile to save lives and support the needy.

Jolamma Varghese Sebastian, 58, who was fondly known as 'Jolly Sister' and who served Dubai Blood Donation Centre (DBDC) for 21 years, passed away in her hometown in the south Indian state of Kerala on Monday. She had taken medical leave and gone home for cancer treatment.

Her death has come as a shock and cause of grief to the “blood donation family”. Colleagues recalled Sebastian as a compassionate, kindhearted and dedicated staff member who went beyond the call of duty to assist donors, patients and colleagues. A moving video made by her colleagues at DBDC was broadcast during the funeral service of Sebastian, which was livestreamed yesterday.

Nurse family
Family members of Jolamma Varghese Sebastian during the funeral service. Image Credit: Supplied

Dr May Yassin Raouf, the director of DBDC, said in the video: “We are so upset ... We are so sorry for this big loss. Jolamma was a kind and caring mother and friend to all of us. She was an excellent staff. We loved her so much and we will miss her. She was our beloved staff, sister, mother and friend.”

Nurse Siji, the blood donation campaign coordinator at DBDC, said she was grateful for having got a chance to work with Jolly Sister. “She was very hard working even when she had some health issues. She would only concentrate on duty with no complaints. She would stay back for campaigns and also make calls to donors in case of emergencies when we needed to arrange blood.”

Another colleague said: “She was a sincere and hard working person who has always given love and support to all the staff. The DBDC family is very sad to have lost her.”

Donation drive in fond memory

Blood donation volunteers from the Facebook group Blood Donors Kerala (BDK), UAE, have also mourned the demise of Jolly Sister. The group is organising a blood donation drive in memory of Sebastian at Riqqat Al Madeena Supermarket in Hor Al Anz today.

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Colleagues recalled Sebastian as a compassionate, kindhearted and dedicated staff member who went beyond the call of duty to assist donors, patients and colleagues. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“There are some people who leave an indelible mark on our lives. Sister Jolly Sebastian was one such personality. She was so loving, compassionate and helpful. Her presence motivated volunteers and donors to keep up the good work. Although we miss this motherly figure, her legacy will live on through each one of us. The best way to pay our tributes to her is by conducting a blood donation camp. Come and join us as we celebrate her life,” the group said in a poster.

Jolamma Varghese Sebastian

Unni Punnara, the coordinator of BDK, UAE, said the volunteers who had been regularly donating blood at DBDC had experienced the dedication and care of Jolly first-hand. “I have been actively involved with BDK UAE’s blood donation campaigns since 2004. Jolly Sister was exceptionally cooperative for all these years.” He said the group organises mass blood donation camps mainly on Fridays. “That is when we get more donors. Sister Jolly used to be there to help us even on Fridays. If the camp didn’t finish on time, she would even miss her transport and stay back patiently to collect blood from all the donors. Such was her dedication to save life.”

Selfless service

C.P. Mathew, chief coordinator for voluntary group Valley of Love, said community members were grateful to Sebastian for her selfless service. She was also known for supporting the poor. The Orthodox Christian Youth Movement of St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral also offered its condolences.

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Speaking to Gulf News from Kerala after Sebastian’s funeral service yesterday, her husband KP Sebastian, a retired inspector of the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai, said he and his three sons have lost the light of their house.

“She was a good mother and teacher. She was extremely dedicated at work, always supported the poor and prayed for everyone. She had done a lot of charity work in New Delhi and Saudi Arabia where she had worked earlier. I still have a few bundles of clothes that she had kept aside to be distributed among the poor. I wish to write a book on her life to inspire others.”