Youngest female Microsoft Certified Professional dies at 16

A Microsoft Certified Professional at only 9 years old, Arfa Karim passed away on Saturday at the age of 16 after suffering from an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest last month.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Arfa Karim, an MCP at only 9, has passed away at the age of 16.
Arfa Karim, an MCP at only 9, has passed away at the age of 16. Microsoft

Arfa Karim, the youngest girl ever to become a Microsoft Certified Professional, passed away in her native country of Pakistan on Saturday owing to complications from an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest. She would have turned 17 next month.

Granted the MCP title in 2004, Karim was only 9 years old at the time, making her the youngest MCP in Pakistan and reportedly the second youngest in the world, just behind India's Mridul Seth, who became an MCP at the age of 8. Her excitement about technology first bubbled up after her father bought her a PC, mainly to use for e-mail.

At 10, Karim met personally with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, an experience she described as second only to visiting Disneyland.

Karim was felled by a cardiac arrest last month, followed by an epileptic attack. Doctors discovered that she had weak cardiac muscles due to a defect, specifically a hole in her heart muscle, according to News Pakistan.

After learning of Karim's condition, Gates took an active role in trying to help, instructing his own doctors to monitor her care remotely. The Microsoft chairman looked into the possibility of transferring her to the U.S. where he would pay for treatment. But her doctors felt her condition would not allow her to be moved, especially since she was on a ventilator. However, News Pakistan reported that Gates and Karim's father were both disappointed over the treatment she received at the hospital in Pakistan.

Though Karim was in a coma since late December, doctors were apparently optimistic about her chances for recovery, as they reached out to other medical experts around the world, according to the Huffington Post. Her condition had even started to improve. But after 26 days in the hospital, Karim finally passed away because of complications from a tracheotomy on Saturday.

On learning of Karim's death, Gates offered his condolences to the girl's father and posted a tweet expressing his sympathies.

Though some may discount the effort it takes to become an MCP, it does require in-depth knowledge of several Microsoft products and technologies, something many adults have difficulty mastering. And Karim seemed wise beyond her years, as recounted in an interview with Seattle PI conducted when she was only 10.

"If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only the mind," she said at the time. "If you think shy, you act shy. If you think confident, you act confident. Therefore never let shyness conquer your mind."

Beyond her status as an MCP, Karim had participated in various events and conferences over the years, including the Microsoft keynote session at the Tech-Ed Developers Conference in Barcelona in 2006, noted Geo TV. She was also reportedly working on a project with NASA before she became sick.