The rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease has imposed major stresses on healthcare resources and all aspects of social and economic life around the world. The lockdown and stay-in-place orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 has especially impacted children with congenital heart disease (CHD), most of whom require urgent treatment.
During this pandemic President, Nitin Mehta, of the Rotary Club of Bombay Airport raised Rs. 2.17 Cr to give a new lease of life to around 150 children with CHD at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care in Kharghar.
Every year around 2,50,000 children are born with heart problems and only 50,000 of these are treated. Close to 25% succumb to the disease within the first year, and the rest go untreated, creating a huge backlog nationally. This year, many hospitals across the country witnessed a reduction in their CHD programs due to COVID-19; the availability of staff, equipment, resources, and operating rooms for Paediatric Cardiac Surgeries was affected, further burdening the long-pending list of children with CHD.
President, Nitin Mehta, of the Rotary Club of Bombay Airport along with partner club Rotary Club of Fort Wayne, USA, Rotary Districts 3141 & 5360 and a global grant from Rotary International, raised USD 2,93,000, equivalent to Rs 2.17Cr (out of which USD 52500 was contributed by the club) for paediatric heart surgeries at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, from 30th October 2020.
To commemorate this, a ‘Gift of Life’ ceremony was held, where children who had been operated at the hospital were given certificates to wish them well for the future. Chief Guest Sunil Gavaskar presided over the ceremony.
Mr C Sreenivas, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai Health & Education Trust said “We thank Rotary Club of Bombay Airport came forward to support the children with CHD during the Covid19 Pandemic. Since the launch of the program to date, around 85 surgeries were successfully performed and by May’21, we will perform the other 65 surgeries. Around 750 surgeries and interventions are planned for this year, and from next year this number would be around 1800 – 2000 annually”
“Congenital Heart Disease is a national burden that needs to have an integrated approach of Early Diagnosis, Cure and Training for an effective addressal. Affordability and Accessibility are huge challenges that families face while trying to find care solutions for their little ones with Congenital Heart Disease. Over the last few years, various programs have been initiated by the Government and Healthcare Institutions, but much remains to be done. Institutional partnerships such as the one between Sanjeevani and Rotary create a new model for sustainable healthcare delivery in the years to come”
Mr Nitin Mehta, President of the Rotary Club of Bombay Airport said “The project ‘Gift of Life’ aims at helping the needy irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or race and the surgery is performed free of cost for the child with a congenital heart condition. Only a small fraction of children with CHD can afford cardiac surgery since sophisticated paediatric care is expensive and beyond the reach of citizens belonging to the underprivileged sections of society. COVID19 affected this vulnerable population all the more as a treatment for CHD became unavailable in Government Hospitals.”
Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, who has been championing the cause of Congenital Heart Disease through various awareness and non-profit programmes shared, “It becomes more challenging for parents from rural areas to access specialized medical care in a private hospital. Many families cannot afford the expensive treatment or reach facilities providing low-cost treatment in time. Awareness and early intervention can help ease the problems faced by them. There is a need for a proactive response from the corporates and HNIs to provide generous funding. In the game of cricket, the opening batsmen lay the foundation for the rest of the team to come forward and make a contribution. My request is for you to spread the message and to tell the world of the work that is being done here towards a healthier and better world.”
Dr Rashmi Prabhatha, Head of Department, Paediatric Cardiac Surgery at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care, Kharghar shares the Journey of a Patient who travelled all the way to save their child was successfully operated by our expert paediatric cardiac team.
1. During the lockdown, Mr Sanjay Kumar Dhar, travelled for nearly a week to reach the hospital from Orissa to Mumbai, to save his one-year-old son Jyothirmaya suffering from Congenital Heart Diseases, hoping that his son holds on till they could reach the Hospital. A team of doctor performed successful surgery.
2. Father and Pregnant Mother with their 9-month-old son with Congenital Heart Disease rode on a two-wheeler from Akola (Maharashtra) to Kharghar, Navi Mumbai covering about 700 Kms on a motorbike in heavy rain and dark roads to give a new lease of life to their son.