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‘Brave and bubbly’ healthcare assistant from Ipswich dies after 5-month Covid battle

PUBLISHED: 17:39 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:16 04 September 2020

Saima Toqir Bilgrami, 37, contracted Covid-19 after working on the coronavirus ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

Saima Toqir Bilgrami, 37, contracted Covid-19 after working on the coronavirus ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

NAVEED BILGRAMI

An Ipswich family says it is “heartbroken” following the death of “bubbly and strong” Saima, 37, who has tragically died after contracting coronavirus while working on the frontline.

Saima Toqir Bilgrami, who was born in Ipswich, has died at the age of 37 after contracting coronavirus as a healthcare assistant at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH). Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMISaima Toqir Bilgrami, who was born in Ipswich, has died at the age of 37 after contracting coronavirus as a healthcare assistant at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH). Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

Saima Toqir Bilgrami, a much-loved healthcare assistant from Ipswich who attended Northgate High School, was diagnosed with coronavirus in April after working in a Covid ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) in Harlow.

Mrs Bilgrami, who moved away from Ipswich a few years ago with her husband Naveed, spent 146 days on a life support machine after “giving everything she could to help others” in her role with the NHS.

Mrs Bilgrami was admitted to hospital on April, 2, and celebrated her 10-year anniversary with her husband Naveed the following day.

She sadly died on Wednesday, August 26 after a long battle fighting Covid-19 – leaving her family, friends and colleagues distraught.

Saima, 37, with her husband of 10 years, Naveed Bilgrami. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMISaima, 37, with her husband of 10 years, Naveed Bilgrami. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

Following her death, Mr Bilgrami has described his wife as his “forever friend”, who he said was smiling up until her last hours.

“I have never seen such a strong woman,” said Mr Bilgrami, aged 37. “She is an amazing person, a really lovely and jolly woman, who everyone loved and always asked after.

“Even though she knew she was dying, she was always smiling and thinking of others. I am heartbroken.”

Mrs Bilgrami loved to travel, read books and adored her nieces and nephew, who called her their “amazing auntie”.

Saima, 37, has tragically died after a five-month long battle with coronavirus. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMISaima, 37, has tragically died after a five-month long battle with coronavirus. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

Her older sister Uzma Zaidi still lives in Ipswich along with Mrs Bilgrami’s mother Shaheen Zaidi, father Zahid Zaidi and younger brother Imran Zaidi.

Mrs Zaidi said her younger sister truly loved her job and would do anything she could to help other people, working longer hours and extra shifts when the virus arrived.

Mrs Zaidi described her sister as “brave, grateful and selfless”, adding Mrs Bilgrami would never cry in front of her family while in hospital as she wanted to protect them.

“She filled the room, she was bubbly, confident, graceful and the same Saima to everyone,” explained Mrs Zaidi, who grew up in St Helen’s Street.

Saima's family came to visit her in hospital before she tragically passed away after 146 days. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMISaima's family came to visit her in hospital before she tragically passed away after 146 days. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

She added that her sister was very cheeky, and despite falling ill because of her job she did not regret choosing to help others and wanted to make a difference.

Mrs Zaidi said her and Mrs Bilgrami had drifted apart in recent years, admitting she only started to appreciate her in her final months.

“She was a person I was going to spend my old age with, she was my younger sister,” said Mrs Zaidi.

“Life pulls you apart, but your sister is the friend that you are supposed to have forever. I never expected her to have gone so young, we are all heartbroken.”

Saima (far right) adored her family and was Saima (far right) adored her family and was "loved by everyone", says her older sister Uzma Zaidi. Picture: NAVEED BILGRAMI

Mrs Zaidi said her sister made a prayer before she died, thanking Allah for the beautiful life she was given.

Mr Bilgrami expressed his thanks to Saima’s friends, with a special mention to her close friend Hanya, Saima’s family and all the incredible staff at the Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, where his wife spent her final days.


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