Dubai: A Keralite in Dubai, who supported his pregnant wife to move India’s Supreme Court for early repatriation during COVID-19 lockdown, died in his sleep on Sunday night, a month after his wife flew home on the first repatriation flight from here.
Nithin Chandran, who turned 28 on June 2, and his wife Athira Geetha Sreedharan, 27, had hit the headlines after she filed a writ petition seeking help to return home following the suspension of flights to India for the delivery of their first baby due in the first week of July.
A mechanical engineer working with a construction company in Dubai, Nithin had stayed back in Dubai after sending his wife home on the first day of repatriation from Dubai on May 7 under the Vande Bharat Mission.
He was under treatment for high blood pressure and a heart condition and is suspected to have died of a heart attack while asleep, his friends said this morning. Gulf News could not immediately verify the cause of his death.
“We got to know about this from one of his friends, Praveen, who had moved in to Nithin’s apartment just a couple of days as he was alone after Athira went home,” said their friend Bibin Jacob.
Though the case she filed had no desired impact, Athira, an electronics and communication engineer with an IT equipment company, had managed to get a ticket on the first repatriation flight from Dubai to Kozhikode after the Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul gave high priority to her since she would not have been able to travel later due to the advanced stage of pregnancy.
Vipul offered his condolences to the family on Monday.
“I am shocked to hear about the demise of Nithin whose wife is pregnant and was among the first one to be repatriated on Vande Bharat Mission,” he told Gulf News.
“Nithin worked a lot for the community, especially arranging blood donation camps and volunteering during COVID situation. I give my sincere condolences to the family and hope that they are able to withstand this big and untimely loss,” the Consul General added.
‘He had saved many lives’
The couple had been active in social service as members of the Blood Donors Kerala-UAE chapter and the youth wing of expat organisation Incas.
Due to Athira’s pregnancy, they had to stop their volunteering works when coronavirus hit the UAE.
However, after she left for Kerala, Nithin became active again in volunteering in spite of his hectic work schedule, friends said.
He found time to distribute food kits for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and also organised blood donation drives.
“His work had been hectic these days. He even discussed with me about resigning and going back home. But whenever he managed to get some time, he came for food kit distribution. He was one of our main coordinators for blood donation here,” said Bibin.
Another friend said Nithin had been a pillar of a volunteering group called Emergency Team International in Kerala and continued to support its mobile blood donation drive named Mission Raktha Vahini over phone during the pandemic.
“He had arranged some people to donate blood in his homwtown even today. He had helped save many lives in Kerala and here. It is very tragic that he died without getting help.”
Mazhar, a Sharjah resident who was helped by Nithin to arrange O negative blood for his coronavirus-infected wife last week, said he was devastated to hear about the untimely death of the blood donation champion.
“We didn’t know each other. My colleague connected me to him on Thursday. He was so nice and arranged everything for my wife’s blood transfusion within minutes. It’s really tragic to know he is no more.”
Nithin had earlier told Gulf News that Incas Youth Wing which had supported the couple to file the petition, sponsored Athira’s repatriation ticket as a token of appreciation for taking up the cause of many pregnant women like her.
“We didn’t want financial support for the ticket. But when they offered it as a gift for her, I felt morally responsible to offer free tickets to at least two others who are really in need. I will be doing that,” he had said.
Nithin’s friends said his body was shifted to Rashid Hospital from his apartment in International City for collecting the sample for COVID-19 test before shifting to the police mortuary.
“His blood pressure was high lately, but he had not complained of any symptoms of COVID-19. Both of them had got tested negative before Athira flew home. But, further procedures can be done only after authorities test him for coronavirus again,” said a friend.
Friends said relatives back home were asked to shift Athira to a hospital before they break the devastating news that her loving husband who had seen her off at the airport would never meet her or her unborn child.