The money of the crowds works as well as its wisdom, and a global group of doctors is using it to good effect: helping patients in dire need.
When 10-year old Ningaiah, a labourer’s son, suffered a snake bite as he lay sleep in the open, he was put on expensive ventilator support.
The Pediatric and Geriatric Care Foundation formed by ‘transnational philanthropists’ stepped in and threw the family a lifeline. It collected money for treatment, while the hospital waived most of its charges. The PG Care Foundation, with about 100 alumni mostly from government medical colleges in Hubballi, Kalaburagi and Bengaluru, uses their networks on WhatsApp and Facebook to raise the money. The doctors have helped nearly 50 patients over two years, with a Rs. 1 lakh funding cap per case.
Like Ningaiah, there is Gouramma, a two month pre-term baby girl born to poor farm workers of Sirsi. Shravan Jyoti, one of the earliest members of the Foundation, recalls that she had to be kept for 75 days in an incubator and her father Sunil Kumar could not afford it. The Sri Mahalakshmi Paediatric Hospital treated the baby free for a week before sending an SOS to PG Care Foundation.
The Foundation’s network in the U.S. and countries such as Cayman Islands looks for deserving cases. When a doctor-member finds a deserving patient, a message goes out with details, and money is raised. Patients referred by those outside the group are also considered.
“Several people use WhatsApp and Facebook for chat. We thought they could be used for better purposes. That has helped so many,” says Rajshekar Sedamkar, a Bidar-based orthopaedic surgeon and a group member.
Patients in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Maharashtra have got help. Some members make one-time donations and others pay monthly. Many give a lump sum on the birthdays of their children.
Such donations came to the rescue of five-year old Hasini, admitted to Sri Ramachandra Medical College Hospital, Chennai with Rhabdomyosarcoma (skeletal muscle cancer). Her widowed mother could not pay for 45 cycles of chemotherapy.
Says member S. Adi Narayanan, anaesthesia expert in Puducherry: “As students, we could only dream of such a venture. We could execute it when we started working. We will also set up a corpus fund for emergencies.”