A heartbroken family have paid a touching tribute to a junior doctor who drowned in Margate in England after a late-night swim ended in tragedy, foreign media reported.
The body of 26-year-old Sri Lankan born doctor Thirushika Sathialingam was discovered by coastguard crews in the town's harbour after the alarm was raised by friends in the early hours of Saturday, September 11.
It is understood Thirushika had gone into the water with colleagues, who had not noticed she was missing until they arrived back at their accomodation.
A major search was launched at 3am involving lifeboat crews, police, firefighters and a coastguard rescue helicopter.
But Thirushika's body was sadly found in the harbour by RNLI volunteers at 5.45am.
Her father Sathialingam, who retired from his position as consultant anaesthetist at the QEQM in July, paid tribute to his daughter.
"Every parent thinks their child is special but she truly was, and it is only now that I am realising how much good advice she gave me and how wise she was," he said.
"She always had time to listen to people, and enjoyed looking after her patients.
"During the second wave of Covid she was on a respiratory ward with people who had the virus and she would sit and talk to them, holding their hands to give them comfort.
"She was not afraid to double-check things with consultants if she felt something was not right and she was passionate about her work."
Known to friends as Thiru, she was born in Sri Lanka and spent much of her childhood in Ilford, before moving to Kent with her family in 2011.
Thiru attended Sir Roger Manwood’s School and studied medicine at Riga Stradins University in Latvia, where she met her boyfriend Peter Speilbichler. The couple were together for six years.
After graduating, Thiru and Peter spent some time travelling before the coronavirus pandemic hit and she moved back to Kent to start working at the QEQM, where her brother Kaushaliyan is also a junior doctor.
The Cliffsend resident's ambition was to follow in her father’s footsteps as an anaesthetist, or study interventional radiology.
Kaushaliyan said: "I don’t think many siblings were as close as we were. We did almost everything together.
“She was a fantastic doctor. I don’t think she realised how good she was, but it came naturally to her. She was able to think outside the box to get things done for her patients, and she loved that medicine was such a complex subject.
“She was interested in anaesthetics because she enjoyed the scientific approach to it. She wanted to be able to do procedures that would make a real difference to people.”