A 25-year-old Non-Resident Indian (NRI) exchange student at the University of Houston (UH) in Texas, USA is fighting for her life after she was struck by lightning in a freak mishap, officials said.
Susroonya Koduru, a graduate student studying at the UH, was walking along the pond with her friends on July 4th weekend, at the San Jacinto Monument Park when lightning hit, according to the family sources.
The family has created a GoFundMe to help with medical costs and reunite her with her family. On her page, the family has appealed all for help so she can get back to her normal routine soon.
"She requires very prolonged and aggressive medical care," said Koduru's cousin Surendra Kumar Kotha.
"When she got hit by lightning and thrown into the pond, she went into cardiac arrest and is now suffering brain damage," her cousin said.
Koduru's family is trying to get her parents, who are in India, to Houston so they can be by their daughter's side and that may help her get better soon.
"I am requesting everyone to include her in your prayers for her speedy recovery," Kotha said. "The family needs help airlifting her to India where they want her to get care and is going to need long-term care."
Koduru came to the United States for further studies and was a Masters student in Information Technology at the UH, where she had nearly completed her Master's programme and was waiting for internships.
On July 2, she went sightseeing at the San Jacinto Monument and was struck by lightning near the reflection pond at the monument site. The strike caused her to go into cardiac arrest for 20 minutes before circulation could be restored.
Subsequently, she suffered devastating brain damage and went into a coma. Currently, she is unable to breathe on her own and is needing ventilator support with a tracheostomy and has a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) tube to support nutrition while waiting for any return of brain function.
The MRI reports show signs of anoxic encephalopathy, a condition of the brain when it has been deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period.
According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, they responded to a call that a woman was possibly struck by lightning and somehow was thrown into the pond, where a bystander jumped in to help her.
The chances of getting struck by lightning per year are one in nearly 1.2 million, according to the National Weather Service. In the last 30 years, there have been an average of 43 lightning deaths per year. Ten per cent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90 per cent with various degrees of disabilities.