Touching Little Hearts, a Project for Pediatric Cardiac Surgeries.

India is a lower-middle-income country with one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Despite the strides in its economy, it has a high child mortality rate. Healthcare provision is poor, and many families, especially in rural areas, have a lot of difficulties in accessing good healthcare. 90% of India’s poorest have no health insurance. Poor are routinely forced to dip into their savings, borrow, delay treatment or receive poor quality care.

To be born with congenital heart defects in this country, especially in underprivileged families, is almost like a certain death sentence. On top of that, over half of hospitalisations in India are in private hospitals, where the medical expenditure per hospitalisation is seven times that of government hospitals. Given this, the poor are less likely to avail of hospitalisation, which really endangers toddlers with Coronary Heart Disease, making their chances of survival even slimmer.

Here, the Rotary Club of Mumbai Lakers becomes a beacon of hope for kids under the age of 18 born with heart defects, through the Touching Little Hearts campaign. There are different forms in which we help the families bear the cost of the heart surgeries. Sometimes we bear partial costs of surgery, and in most cases, we bear the full cost. The ‘Touching Little Hearts’ surgeries have reached 320 children over the last 8 years through RCML. The youngest child whose heart surgery we have supported was 5 hours old.

The beneficiaries are vetted by Rotary for assessing their economic background and the genuineness of their requirement after are referred by Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. After a complete health checkup, heart surgery is arranged for them at KDAH. We expect about 140-150 children benefit from this project annually. We also encourage parents to get some funds from their own funds or some other charitable organisation to meet a part of the cost so that their involvement in the process is present. This project has received international recognition and is being appreciated across forums locally & internationally.

These kids are operated on by the best heart surgeons the country has to offer, and Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital ensures they receive the best healthcare possible. We at Rotary feel privileged to have a 100% success rate in the infants and children surgically operated upon through us. The surgeries included a variety of closed heart procedures and complex major open-heart surgeries. The average cost for each surgery comes to around Rs 2.75 Lakhs. Our motto is to put better than our best foot forward in the service of the needy.

We at Rotary pride ourselves on never having refused surgical or other forms of treatment for any child based on affordability, and have gone out of our way to subsidise or even carry out the treatment for free if the need arose.

When this article is being released, there are 14 active cases in various stages of treatment and recovery at KDAH. Nothing brings a bigger smile on the Lakers’ face and a feeling of accomplishment higher than seeing the successful TLH cases.

You too can get a share of this satisfaction by participating in the Powai Run, where the proceeds of your run will contribute towards the heart surgery of the next infant beneficiary. Rest assured, these smiles are the most profound moments of bliss you will ever experience in your life. We at RCML, acknowledge you and thank you with all our heart for being sympathetic to our cause and mission of putting better than our best foot forward in service of the needy.

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