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Sunday, 25 October 2020

CHARITY TODAY AWARDS

Quick-thinking five-year-old saves dad’s life after seizure

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A five-year-old girl has been praised for saving her father’s life after he collapsed.

Avaana Samuel was at home in Worcester Park, Sutton, when her dad Sam, 34, was taken ill with a seizure. He suffered severe convulsions was left bleeding from a head wound after falling out of bed.

Sam Suriakumar, a self-employed recruitment consultant and part-time musician, is on medication which, until recently, had successfully controlled seizures caused by a brain tumour. But two weeks ago he was resting at home with Avaana and her little sister Arya, three when he experienced a life-threatening grand mal seizure.

When quick-thinking Avaana heard her little sister crying out in fright she ran to the rescue, scooping Arya up and taking her into another room and then phoning for help on her Dad’s mobile. Despite the distressing scene, Avaana kept her cool to contact her GP mum Sindhu at work and other relatives who dialled 999. When emergency services were alerted and phoned the house, Avaana followed their instructions to the letter, turning her father over into a safe position, checked if he was breathing and stayed by his side until her family and then the paramedics arrived.

Sam, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February after being taken ill on the Tube, said: 

“While it was a very scary time I am so proud of my girls, particularly Avaana who literally saved my life. She was protective of her little sister and then called for help. Somehow she managed to remain calm and did everything she was told.

“I was unconscious for around five minutes and, when I came to, I was very confused and disorientated. It wasn’t really until I was in the hospital that I realised how serious it had been.

“I was very touched when the paramedics who had been at the house came to see me in A&E. I was much more coherent by then and it was very emotional to hear them say how amazed they were by how Avaana remained calm and responded in the way she did when it must have been so frightening for her.”

Avaana’s presence of mind has been rewarded with a prestigious Golden Door Award for Bravery Award from her school in only the second time in five years that the award has been granted.

Following the incident, Sam, a Sri Lankan Tamil, has had a scan and other tests and is now waiting for an MRI next month.

Avaana, Arya and Sam Suriakumar

He said: 

“The seizure hit me out of the blue and it was the first big one I’ve had since my diagnosis. Although I have been told it looks as if there is swelling around the tumour, the tumour itself doesn’t appear to have changed which is good news.

“For now I am staying positive. My diagnosis turned our world upside down and changed things forever. My biggest fear when I was told I had a brain tumour was that I would not get time to spend with my wife and our two precious daughters; they are my whole world. Making the most of our time is the most important thing for me.”

Sam and his family have recently welcomed a new member – Leo, a Maltipoo puppy. Named after Sam’s star sign, the ‘little lion’ has become a symbol of the family’s strength, hope and inspiration.

The family have been overwhelmed to have raised nearly £8,000 in donations for Brain Tumour Research after sharing their story about Sam’s diagnosis. Sadly, brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40 and Sam has been working with the charity to raise awareness of the disease. Historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours.

Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK singularly focused on finding a cure for brain tumours through campaigning for an increase in the national investment into research to £35 million per year, while fundraising to create a sustainable network of brain tumour research centres in the UK.

To make a donation for Brain Tumour Research please click on Sam’s JustGiving page.

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