Five children with congenital cardiac problems recently flew in from Lunglei in Mizoram to Chennai to get treated.
The children have since returned home post-surgery, their hearts beating with gratitude.
On September 14 last year, J.S.N. Murthy, senior cardiologist and head of cardiology, Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, received a request from the then deputy commissioner and district magistrate A. Kulothungan to conduct a cardiac and oncology camp in Lunglei district.
Dr. Murthy roped in his friend and surgical oncologist R. Ravikannan from Silchar in Assam and led a team of cardiologists and technicians along with ultrasound equipment to Lunglei, around 170 km from the State’s capital Aizwal, to conduct a free cardiology and oncology health camp.
“It took eight hours through forest areas (to reach Civil Hospital where the camp was held). It is one of the farthest parts of northeast India, close to Bangladesh and Myanmar borders,” Dr. Murthy said. In the camp held on November 11 and 12, 250 adults and children were screened for cardiac problems. A similar number were screened for cancer too.
As many as 25 children and four adults required further investigation and the indigent patients needed support to travel to Chennai and for surgery. Dr. Murthy sought out Sri Shankara Heart Foundation, which has funded an estimated ₹7.5 crore to treat over 1,500 patients so far.
SASTRA University pitched in as well. Seven patients and eight attendants arrived on February 23 and the Chancellor of Sri Ramachandra Medical College V.R. Venkataachalam supervised their boarding and lodging arrangements, Dr. Murthy said.
While two adult patients required only medical management and returned home, five children with complex defects underwent surgery. A Mizoram government release said: “The cost of operation, treatment, stay in the hospital and all travel expenditure were provided free of cost through corporate social responsibility of Sri Shankara Heart Foundation, Mathew Foundation, Murthi Trust, Renyl Foundation and Mr. Subramaniam.” The children have since returned to their villages.
Sri Shankara Heart Foundation bore the cost of the surgeries and return flight tickets up to Aizwal for all the 15 members and SASTRA University donated ₹15 lakh. Other charitable organisations pitched in, Dr. Murthy said.
“The main challenges are mobilising funds, identifying patients and infusing confidence in the poor, illiterate patients to travel from Mizoram to Chennai,” Dr. Murthy added.