Dr Ruth Pfau, a symbol of selflessness and devotion to leprosy patients, passed away at the age of 87 in Karachi early on Thursday.

The humanitarian had been dealing with several health problems brought on by her advancing age, including heart disease, for which she has been undergoing treatment for several years.

Dr Pfau was admitted to a private hospital last Friday. She was put on a ventilator after her condition worsened on Sunday, but, according to a source close to her, she refused life support, after which doctors took her off the ventilator on Monday as per her wishes.

She passed away around 4:00am on Thursday morning after a continued deterioration in her health.

The late Dr Ruth had come to Pakistan from Germany in 1960, and was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988.

In 1979, she was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award of the country. In 1989, Dr Ruth was presented the Hilal-i-Pakistan.

Her last rites will be performed on August 19 at St. Patrick's Church in Karachi's Saddar area.

Following the news of her demise, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Jawed Bajwa referred to Dr Ruth as an "ambassador of humanity" and said "she will always be remembered" for her services.

Condolences poured in for the late humanitarian on social media.