• Thursday, May 26, 2022


British Asian Covid frontline doctor, 26, drowns in Kent

Thirushika Sathialingam

By: Pramod Thomas

A British Asian junior doctor who fought to save lives on the Covid frontline drowned while taking a dip in the sea, The Daily Mail reported.

The body of Thirushika Sathialingam, 26, was found in Margate Harbour, Kent, by coastguards in September. Her friends had raised the alarm when she failed to return home with them.

She was a doctor on a respiratory ward at The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) during the UK’s second coronavirus wave.

According to the report, a major search operation was launched, involving lifeboat crews, police, firefighters and a coastguard rescue helicopter.

The health worker, known to friends as Thiru, was last seen alive in the water at Margate Harbour, an inquest at County Hall in Maidstone, Kent, was told on Tuesday (7), The Mail report added.

Assistant coroner Joanne Andrews said the cause of her death was submersion in water, with alcohol intoxication being a contributory factor.

“Every parent thinks their child is special but she truly was, and it is only now that I am realising how much good advice she gave me and how wise she was. She always had time to listen to people, and enjoyed looking after her patients,” her father, a retired doctor, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“During the second wave of Covid she was on a respiratory ward with people who had the virus and she would sit and talk to them, holding their hands to give them comfort. She was not afraid to double-check things with consultants if she felt something was not right and she was passionate about her work.”

Sathialingam spent much of her childhood in Ilford, before moving to Kent with her family in 2011.

She attended Sir Roger Manwood’s School before studying medicine at Riga Stradins University in Latvia, where she met her boyfriend Peter Speilbichler.

After graduating, the couple spent some time travelling before the coronavirus pandemic hit and she moved back to Kent to start working at the QEQM, where her brother Kaushaliyan is also a junior doctor.

He told The Mail: “She was a fantastic doctor. I don’t think she realised how good she was, but it came naturally to her. She was able to think outside the box to get things done for her patients, and she loved that medicine was such a complex subject.”

East Kent Hospitals’ chief executive Susan Acott described the talented doctor’s death as a ‘huge loss’ to the Trust.

Dr Prathibha Bandipalyam, director of medical education, told The Mail: “Thiru was an excellent doctor and a major source of support to her colleagues, particularly the new junior doctors who joined us in August. Her talent was obvious and she was dedicated to her work and to the people she cared for.”

According to the report, the inquest was adjourned until February 2 when a full hearing will take place.

Eastern Eye

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