Doctors could not revive Sandra Ann Jaison after she suffered a second cardiac arrest. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Emotional tributes poured in for an Indian teen from the UAE who died after a six-year-long battle with a rare kidney disease caused by an insect bite.

Sandra Ann Jaison, 18, died at her hometown Adoor in the south Indian state of Kerala on Monday while waiting for a kidney transplant that was scheduled to be done by this month-end, said her father Jaison Thomas.

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In December 2014, Sandra was diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP), a disease involving inflammation of small blood vessels, after she developed bullous lesions on her feet and calves following an insect bite while holidaying in India. Sandra had suffered chicken pox, a scar in the brain, temporary loss of vision and swelling all over her body. By 2018, 70 per cent of both her kidneys were damaged.

The family, who spent all their earnings for her treatment, had travelled to Kerala for Sandra’s kidney transplantation on a COVID-19 special repatriation flight on June 21. They had found a donor who was willing to donate a kidney for Rs2 million (Dh100,908), Jaison told Gulf News over the phone from Kerala.

“We had done our best to arrange the transplant, which would cost Rs1.2million. Her mother [Biji] had struggled a lot for her,” Jaison said while fighting back his tears.

Low blood pressure

He said Sandra was normal until Monday morning. “Suddenly she developed breathlessness and we rushed her to hospital. They said she had suffered a cardiac arrest and her blood pressure was down.”

Doctors could not revive Sandra after she suffered a second cardiac arrest, said Jaison.

Jaison said Sandra would be laid to rest at Immanuel Mar Thoma Church in Adoor on Wednesday.

The family planned to return to the UAE once Sandra stabilises after the transplant as she had wished to pursue her higher education here.

‘Fighter, role model’

Teachers of Sharjah Indian School, from where Sandra completed her grade 12 a couple of months ago, paid rich tributes to her.

Speaking to Gulf News, Pramod Mahajan, principal of the school, said the teachers held a virtual condolence meeting in memory of Sandra who was a “fighter”.

“Despite her illness, she was very keen to continue her studies. In 12th grade, her attendance was very less. She promised me she would not let me down when she came to me requesting to recommend to CBSE to allow her to write the exam with the help of a scribe. We took special permission from CBSE, considering her health condition.”

Ambition to become a clinical psychologist

He said Sandra indeed kept her word. “Even without attending classes, she secured 75 per cent marks. She scored 85 in her favourite subject psychology.”

Sandra had earlier wished to be an air hostess but changed her ambition and decided to become a clinical psychologist instead, following her illness.

Her psychology teacher Maimoonath Ashraf was still unable to come to terms with the heartbreaking news of her favourite student’s death. The teacher called Sandra a role model for not just students but for everyone. “We had a lot to learn from Sandra. Her optimism ... her motivation and dedication. My heart goes out to her parents.”

The principal said students, staff of the school and management of the Indian Association Sharjah had supported the ailing child.

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Jaison expressed his family’s gratitude to everyone who supported the family. He was also thankful to the family of Nikhita Manoj, a grade 11 student, who wrote the exams for Sandra since the latter difficulty writing.

“Still she studied well and also taught her younger sister Richa who is in grade seven now. Last three months, she was undergoing dialysis on every alternate day. We had pinned our hopes on the transplant. Her loss is unbearable for us. I don’t have words to express my feelings,” the grieving father said.