Sri Lankan Fathima Hilmy loses cancer battle aged 26

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:49 18 February 2015

Fathima Hilmy, of High Road, Ilford.

Fathima Hilmy, of High Road, Ilford.


A “loveable” 26-year-old teaching assistant whose pleas for a stem cell donor had gone around the world was laid to rest this week.

Fathima Hilmy funeral at the Gardens of Peace in BarkingsideFathima Hilmy funeral at the Gardens of Peace in Barkingside

More than 300 people attended the funeral of Fathima Hilmy, of High Road, Ilford – known as Fathima Nusla by her community – at the Gardens of Peace Cemetery in Elmbridge Road, Hainault, on Tuesday after she lost her two-year battle with leukaemia.

Following Muslim tradition the Sri Lankan was buried within 24 hours after passing away at around midnight on Monday.

Families, many of whom had been touched by Fathima’s public calls for a donor made through the Recorder, travelled from near and far to pay their respects.

Mohammed Arafath, Fathima’s brother-in-law, said: “She was such a likable person – it is a huge loss for us.

Mohammed ArafathMohammed Arafath

“She was very polite and such a lovable person.

“Even in her last few days the people who came to visit her in hospital said she was a very happy person.”

Fathima had been told “there was no cure for her” on December 25 by doctors at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in central London.

“She was still very positive and wanted to be happy,” added Mr Arafath.

Her husband Shiyath Mohamed, 31, who married Fathima in 2012 a year before she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, said: “It is hard to explain how much of loss this is – everyone is devastated.”

Fathima’s family revealed it was her dying wish for an organisation to be set up to ease the process of searching for a stem cell donor.

Fathima had revealed many people expressed concerns about having an operation if they wanted to be added to the stem cell registry.

In fact, to be added to the register, people needed to simply send in a swab taken from their cheek.

Tamil website Sonakar translated one Recorder article last year into Fathima’s native language to expand the search for a matching donor across the world.

Speaking from hospital at the time, Fathima revealed people from Qatar, Turkey and the Pakistani city of Peshawar had responded to her appeal.

Her family now hope that her passing will not be in vain.

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