Rotary gift to benefit children in India Cardiac catheterisation labs will help detect heart diseases, but are very prohibitive.

Congenital heart defects are the top cause of infant deaths in India.
Catheterisation labs are needed to diagnose heart defects in children, but not available in most hospitals in India.

In India, congenital heart defects are the top cause of infant deaths. A Fort Wayne organisation was recognised for efforts to make a difference.

Fort Wayne’s Downtown Rotary Club (USA, District 6540) has been working with a local nonprofit organisation and a companion agency in Raipur, India, to fund a $450,000 cardiac catheterisation laboratory for children.

The lab will become a reality with the receipt of a nearly $160,000 grant from Rotary’s International Foundation, local members learned at the group’s luncheon meeting at Parkview Field.

Among the guests were members of the Greater Raipur Rotary Club whose donations helped secure the grant.

In the United States, cardiac catheterisation, which uses a special dye to observe arteries in the heart, is typically used to detect blockages that could lead to a heart attack in adults.

But in India, said Fort Wayne cancer specialist Dr Praveen Kollipara, the labs are especially needed to make diagnoses of heart defects in children, and, in some cases, to spare those children from surgeries that can lead to infections that can become fatal.

The problem has been that the labs are expensive, he said. Although India could use 100 units, it has only 20 to 25, and most are in hospitals that require up-front payment.

That is why funding a lab at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital in northeast India will make such a difference, he said.

The hospital is regionally known for providing free care to indigent children.

But, lacking its own lab, doctors there were forced to send children to another hospital, and the $150 lab test was often unaffordable for their families, Kollipara said.

Through a friend who was a Downtown Rotary member, Nick Shah, Kollipara was led to the organisation’s international grant programme.

The effort paid off about a month ago with the delivery of funds for the lab, Kollipara said.

It should be in place “in the next eight to 10 weeks,” he said.

Kollipara helped found Jyothi Corp, a nonprofit organisation that does philanthropic work in Fort Wayne, nationally and internationally.

Jyothi, whose name means “light,” raised $126,000 in matching money for the Rotary International Foundation’s grant, while the Greater Raipur Rotary Club contributed $137,000. Rotary’s Northern Indiana District supplied another $25,000.

The grant was secured with the help of Holli Seabury, a Downtown Rotary member and experienced grant writer, and Jason Daenens, a member of the club’s international services committee and club past president.

The hospital in India treats between 1,000 and 2,000 children with heart defects annually, Kollipara said.

That means the lab has the potential to help thousands of children and increase the survival rate, he said.

With the lab, “certain surgical interventions can be done through the catheter, percutaneously (through a small puncture in the skin) and can be done on an out­patient basis” Kollipara said.

That eliminates the infections from an open surgical wound, he said.

“That’s the beauty of it,” he said. 

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