Swine flu claims life of young Sikh girl
- Sikh Girl in Ontario Dies of Swine Flu by Raveena Aulakh, Staff Reporter, Toronto Star
A girl's quick swine flu death: One minute she had a tummy ache, the next she was dying of swine flu.
Within minutes, 6-year-old Rubjit Thindal went from happily chatting in the backseat of the car to collapsing and dying in her father's arms.
"If we had known it was so serious, we would have called 911," Kuldip Thindal, Rubjit's distraught mother, said in Punjabi yesterday. "She just had a stomach ache – she wasn't even crying."
Rubjit was pronounced dead at hospital barely 24 hours after showing signs of a fever. Later, doctors told her parents she had the H1N1 influenza virus, also known as swine flu. She is believed to be the youngest person in Canada with the virus to have died.
On the evening of June 14, Rubjit had a bit of a fever and complained that her legs and arms hurt. The next morning, Kuldip took her to a walk-in clinic on McLaughlin Rd. and the doctor prescribed the pain reliever Advil.
By the afternoon, the little girl's fever was gone but she was complaining of a stomach ache.
Kuldip took her to the clinic again at about 2 p.m. The doctor gave her pills and told the Grade 1 student at Roberta Bondar School in Brampton to take it easy. She was fine for a bit, said Kuldip, but she kept asking "me to massage her arms and legs."
In the evening, when Rubjit said her stomach was still hurting, Kuldip and her husband, Gurmukh, decided to take her immediately to Georgetown Hospital.
Kuldip was driving. It was about 8 p.m. and they were five minutes from the hospital. Rubjit sat in the backseat with her dad, talking – as usual – and sipping apple juice.
A minute later, Rubjit suddenly put her hand on her chest and said it was hurting.
The next minute, her body went limp and she stopped breathing.
Gurmukh performed CPR while Kuldip raced into the hospital's parking lot.
It was about 8:05 p.m. when they arrived, Kuldip remembers. Two hours later, doctors confirmed their little girl was dead.
The exact cause of her death has not yet been determined, but the virus is known to have been a contributing factor, Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, told a news conference Monday.
The H1N1 virus is having a greater impact on young people. The average age of the 2,665 Ontarians infected with the virus is 21.
Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital, explained that older people are more likely to have built up antibodies to fight the virus by having been infected with or vaccinated against similar strains in the past.
Rubjit's parents say they don't know where the little girl contracted the virus. The entire family has been tested and Kuldip said doctors have told them no one else has it.
Yesterday, Kuldip's daughter, Harmeen, 13, sat next to her. Her son, Gagan, 10, was on the computer watching videos of his sister singing and dancing to Punjabi music.
"She loved dressing up and having her photograph taken," he said.
The little girl would have turned 7 on Aug. 29. She asked her aunt in India to send her a blue salwar-kameez, a traditional Punjabi dress, and blue bangles for her birthday.
On the weekend, Kuldip bought a blue salwar-kameez and matching bangles for her daughter's funeral.