Child prodigy: Aarifa Karim loses race for her life

Saturday, January 14th, 2012 6:30:07 by

LAHORE: Aarifa Karim Randhawa, the worlds youngest Microsoft certified professional lost the battle for her life after suffering from heart failure, her paternal uncle confirmed on Saturday.

On December 22, Aarifa was admitted to Lahore’s CMH hospital after suffering cardiac arrest. On December 29, doctors said there was no hope for her survival, and that her life support could be switched off ‘at any time’.

However, she had then miraculously responded to certain stimuli, as recently as January 13. Aarifa’s father, Amjad Karim Randhawa had said that she had shown the Plantar Reflex when her foot was stimulated. “Her toes curved slightly downward when her foot was tickled,” he said, adding that earlier she had exhibited the Corneal Reflex, whereby her eyes blinked a few times.

Doctors had said that her brain had shown activity over the past four days, making minor improvements.

When Aarifa, 16, was given the title of a Microsoft professional as a young child, she had visited the company’s headquarters in the US.  When she met Bill Gates himself, she had two questions: Why weren’t children allowed to work for Microsoft, and why such few women worked for the organisation.

Her love for technology, however, started long before she was recognised internationally. After discovering computers for the first time at the age of five, she pestered her father for a personal computer, and after that there was no looking back.

Aarifa’s father had earlier recalled the year in which his daughter passed the test which enabled her to be declared the youngest professional certified by Microsoft in the world. “When she passed the test at age nine, everyone thought the result was wrong,” he reminisced. She wanted to make software just like Bill Gates, he added. She would say that she wanted to work for children and poor people.

Proudly, he said she came from a ‘low-profile’ family, but she would always say she wanted to study all over the world and then come back to help the people in her village. Her dreams were never for herself alone.

Aarifa’s achievements go far beyond recognition from Microsoft alone. The 16-year-old, was a student of Lahore Grammar School’s Paragon campus, and had represented Pakistan in various international forums.  In 2005, the child prodigy received the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal from the government as well as the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award. In addition, she had received the president’s award for Pride of Performance, medals from IT professionals around the world, and also became a brand ambassador for PTCL in 2010.

Her talents were versatile. Besides excelling in the field of science and technology, Aarifa also flew a plane at the age of 10.

Lahore News Sources -2

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