Niyaz Ali with Alia. The grade 12 student of Indian High School never missed school and aspired to be a graphic designer. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A 17-year-old Indian girl from a Dubai school died after flu-related complications at a hospital on Tuesday night, school sources told Gulf News on Wednesday.

Alia Niyaz Ali, a grade 12 student in the arts stream at the Indian High School, attended school on Sunday, sources said.

She was admitted to Rashid Hospital on Tuesday afternoon and passed away in the evening. Her funeral took place at Al Quoz cemetery Wednesday in the presence of family members, friends and school officials.

A comment from Rashid Hospital was not immediately available.

“Guys, with great sorrow and regret, we’re informing you about the death of a fellow batch mate from the girls section, supposedly caused due to flu,” stated a message circulated by the school’s student council to parents. It also advised them to keep children safe by giving them the flu vaccine, making them wash hands, and wear face masks in crowded areas.

A condolence note issued by the school mourned Alia’s death. “Alia’s fellow students and teachers will always remember her as a bundle of energy, a pleasing personality – compassionate, helpful and highly creative,” it said.

“The IHS management, CEO, staff and students pray for the peace of the departed soul. May God grant her family the strength to bear this loss.”

Alia was first taken to Dr Joseph’s Polyclinic on November 9 with symptoms of flu. Dr Mohammad Koya, general physician, who initially treated her told Gulf News: “The patient first came to me on November 9 with mild fever and rhinitis. I prescribed her paracetamol and antihistamines.”

He added: “The patient reported again on November 13 with severe chest and upper abdomen pain. I suspected viral myocarditis and referred her to Rashid Hospital.”

Family in grief

Alia’s death follows the death of another student recently. Ameena Sharaf, a nine-year old grade 4 student of Our Own Indian High School, died on October 29 of an acute viral infection, possibly flu.

Alia’s father Niyaz Ali cannot believe that his beloved daughter is no more. Ali, a businessman, told Gulf News that “Alia was a robust, healthy, energetic and creative child who aspired to be a graphic designer. She never fell ill. Last week, she had a viral infection and did not go to school for three days. She had high fever the first day but subsequently, the fever was mild as she was on paracetamol tablets. On Sunday, November 11, she resumed going to school and was perfectly fine.”

A handwritten note

Today, as Alia Niyaz Ali’s family was trying to come to terms with her shocking death, her mother Fareeda, in seeking closure to her grief took Alia's bedroom to go through Alia’s indelible imprint in their home. Niyaz Ali, Alia’s father told Gulf News: “When she came across a beautiful handwritten note by my daughter of the many “Faces of Patience’’, Fareeda broke down. My daughter had such beautiful thoughts and she was such an honest person.

We feel God took Alia back to him, Insha Alla, which in itself is a blessing. But I also want to alert all parents, doctors and the health officials about her inexplicable death. He death must not go in vain. God willing, our beloved daughter’s death might save precious lives."

Alia's handwritten note Image Credit: Supplied

As it happened

On Monday, November 12, Alia complained of chest and stomach pain. “By Tuesday morning, she was screaming in agony saying her chest, back, intestines and stomach hurt, so we took her again to Dr Joseph’s Polyclinic. The general physician conducted an ECG and found it normal. He referred her to Rashid Hospital where she reached at 12.30pm,” Ali said.

According to the family, Alia had eaten some gooseberry pickle at home and a sandwich at school on Sunday. The doctors at Rashid Hospital ruled out food poisoning as she had no symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. The family was asked about the places they travelled to. “Alia and the family had visited our hometown in Kerala during the summer holidays, but neither she nor my other children had any sickness or fever after returning from India,” Ali said.

“The doctors repeated the ECG, blood and MRI tests and put her on IV fluids and antibiotics, but could not tell us what was causing her so much pain. By early evening, the doctor told me that he had detected fluid collecting outside Alia’s heart, liver and pancreas and concluded that was the cause of pain. I was by her side at around 6.30pm when she suddenly closed her eyes. A battery of doctors and nurses tried to revive her — first manually and then with machines — but she never woke up,” a tearful Ali recalled.

A death certificate issued by Rashid Hospital said she died of “cardiogenic shock”. She was declared dead at 9pm on Tuesday.

Alia is Ali’s fourth child. Her siblings are Fehmina, Aman, Azaan and Ayaan. The grieving family has a word of caution for other parents. “Do not take a viral infection casually. There is something that affects the heart and other vital organs. Please take your child immediately to hospital the moment she or he complains of fever.”

Keeping the flu virus at bay Image Credit: Gulf News