With DG Rajendra Agarwal, RID 3141, declaring 100 heart surgeries on foreign children as one of his thrust areas in this Rotary year (2021–22), RCs Mumbai Divas and Bombay Queen City, home club of the governor, sponsored the surgery on a Nigerian child in July.
Three-year-old Emma landed in Mumbai airport with her mother Lucy Obazwe from Nigeria with a serious heart condition on July 22. She was immediately admitted to Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital under the care of Dr Vishwa Panda. After keeping her in the isolation ward for 48 hours due to Covid protocol and following multiple tests, surgery was done. The child was discharged on July 30. After two 2D echo tests showed everything normal, doctors gave the nod for her to travel back to Nigeria.
District avenue chair (international child surgeries) Leena Shah organised a virtual farewell meet for the Nigerian child and her mother with DG Agarwal as the chief guest. DG Andy Eyone Uwejeyan and AG Ibimina Amachree, RID 9125, Nigeria, along with Dr Vishwa Panda and other doctors addresssed the virtual meet. RC Mumbai Divas president Vidhi Gupta and RC Bombay Queen City president Anup Gupta also spoke on the occasion. Summing up her experience, Lucy said, “it seems like a dream that I will be going back with my healthy baby.” In a way, she had encapsulated the joy such noble projects give to Rotarians at RID 3141, said Rtn Virendra Widge, principal aide to the governor.
DG Agarwal is passionate about child heart surgeries which save young children from poor families from imminent death, he said. “Till date, he has helped 2,500 poor children with free surgeries either through personal funding or facilitating sponsorships.” RI President Shekhar Mehta has given RID 3141 the target of performing 100 heart surgeries on foreign children. The DG has accepted this challenge which will “prove that while in the past we were getting funding help from other countries, we now have the capability to help patients across the world,” said Widge. It may be recalled that Baby Emmanuella from Nigeria was the first foreign child to get his heart operated with help from RID 3141 in November 2020.
With Mumbai boasting world class hospitals, and having over 110 clubs and 6,000-plus members, most of them high networth individuals, “we are capable of taking the lead in cardiac surgeries to save the lives of poor children from across the globe.” DG Agarwal has drawn up plans to do at least 50 heart surgeries on African children in the next seven months. “Lucy and her child were given a rousing reception at the Nigerian airport by Rotarians, making it a special moment for the mother,” said Agarwal. He praised the district team led by its avenue chair Leena in making this surgery project a success.