Plashet School pupil Vaishali Bance Suhayr who suffered from severe allergies and asthma, was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington after she collapsed but died a few days later on 17 October 2015.
Those who knew the 15-year-old are fundraising for the St Mary’s Hospital More Smiles Appeal in a variety of ways, including activities from her bucket list. The appeal aims to raise at least £2million to help expand and improve the hospital’s children’s intensive care unit.
Her mother, Srija, of East Ham, said: “Vaishali showed us how to live. Her allergies and asthma meant she had to be so careful all the time. Even lying in the grass or breathing in the dust from fireworks could land her in hospital but she always said if she enjoyed herself it was worth going to hospital for. She made everyone believe she was invincible.
“We discovered after she passed away that she had written a bucket list of things she wanted to do in her life. There were so many things - swim with dolphins, go cliff-jumping, milk a cow, write her name in concrete. Things I never even knew about.
“When it was the funeral we were collecting photos and we realised how much she had done. It’s because of her that we lived so much. We are going to complete her bucket list for her now to raise money for the More Smiles Appeal. Her aunty has been swimming with dolphins and I have written her name in concrete outside my mum’s house. She had so many dreams and wanted to go out and do all these things. We are so proud of her.”
The popular school pupil, who had two sisters and nine cousins, was predicted seven A* grades in her GCSEs despite only having a 60 per cent attendance rate due to her health.
The family said Vaishali inspired everyone around her with her bright nature and motto, “YOLO” (you only live once).
Vaishali’s father, Harish, said: “She had this way of breaking down barriers. When she was in hospital everyone from her nursery teachers to her school friends came to see her.
“We had four days of seeing that much love – I don’t know how she did it. At the funeral we had every race, religion and age there. She was like a glue that bound everybody together.”
Just a few days before Vaishali died, Srija was called to pick her up from school after she started feeling unwell. But her condition quickly deteriorated so the school called for an ambulance. She was given her usual medication but then went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. Her heart stopped again before paramedics managed to save her once more.
Srija said: “It was the most horrible thing to ever see. In my heart I knew she was gone but I just wanted someone to tell me she was there.
“The emergency response team just wouldn’t give up, nobody would give up and they got her breathing again. It was like Vaishali had gone up there and said ‘I know you’re taking me now but I need to go back and tie up some loose ends’.”
The family thanked St Mary’s Hospital for caring for Vaishali, and for allowing so many people to see her. The family also thanked Newham University Hospital, The Royal London Hospital and St Bartholomew's Surgery for their support throughout Vaishali's life.
Harish added: “Everybody wanted to see Vaishali and St Mary's let us do that. There’s nowhere else that has a team like St Mary’s, they’re amazing.
“Losing Vaishali was the hardest thing to ever go through but we never could have done it without them.”
The St Mary’s More Smiles Appeal, led by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and Cosmic, aims to raise at least £2million towards a £10million project to create a bigger, state-of-the-art children’s intensive care unit. The remainder of the costs are to be funded by the Trust and Imperial College Healthcare Charity.
Vaishali’s school has raised more than £2,144 for the appeal, and will be holding a non-uniform day on her birthday, 15 January, every year to raise money.
Plashet School headteacher, Rachel McGowan, said: “The unit supported Vaishali’s family during a very tough time and we are immensely grateful for the work they do.“The one thing many of us remember about Vaishali was her beautiful hair and determination to make the most of every minute and therefore we wish to celebrate each year what makes each of us beautiful.
“We feel that by wearing our own choice of clothes to school on Vaishali’s birthday each year we can celebrate her life and hold true to her motto of ‘you only live once’ or YOLO by letting our own personalities shine through and being our beautiful selves.”
Vaishali’s friends and family have raised more than £4,311 so far. To donate in her memory, click here.