MASH Help in India

I’m a medical student who has worked for MASH for the past five years. During my final year of medical training I decided to spend 3 months in India working in a large hospital in Delhi (Apollo hospital).

I’m a medical student who has worked for MASH for the past five years. During my final year of medical training I decided to spend 3 months in India working in a large hospital in Delhi (Apollo hospital).

During this time I worked alongside a paediatric heart surgeon, Dr Jothi. It was during this time I came across a local mother and baby Nihidi aged only 8 months old. Nihidi had been diagnosed at birth with a hole in her heart that could only be corrected by open heart surgery. Upon diagnosis of a heart problem the father left the mother and the mother who worked as a cleaner in a house earning around £650 per year, could not afford the life-saving surgery.

The mother was so distressed she told her employee who was a doctor (who knew my surgeon) that her baby was going to die. Her employee was shocked and made an appointment for the mother to see Dr Jothi for free. The mother arrived and having not eaten for days to save money and having sold literally all of her possessions including cutlery emptied only 1/5th of the required fee onto the table in small change, begging for the surgery to be done. By this time Nihidi was so ill that Dr Jothi said she needed surgery within the next two weeks and if the money could not be found then Nihidi would likely die.

I was so moved by this scenario I could not stand still, I needed to find a further £900 just to cover the basic medicine and cost of the bed. As a student, I could not afford this myself so I thought about who to ask for for help and after contacting many friends and family, I wondered if MASH might help. I e-mailed Greg who generously offered £200, £100 from MASH and £100 from Dylan, towards helping Nihidi. I was so excited and grateful as I knew the mother would be, it felt like one step closer to saving at least one child. Unfortunately having brought NIhidi into hospital she caught a chest infection and measles and became too sick for surgery.

The same day that Dr Jothi told me that he didn’t feel Nihidi would survive surgery now, another 18 month old baby girl, Anjeli came to the hospital. Anjeli had been born in a very backward state in India and had been taken to hospital when she was one year old as her mother felt she was breathless. The doctor diagnosed a heart problem but that there was nothing the parents could do about it. Therefore Anjeli was referred to a nursing home where her parents were told Anjeli could die quietly. For the next six months Anjeli fought on and all of their savings and money from selling most of their possessions were spent on nursing care (a total of £810).

When their money ran out her parents were asked to take Anjeli home to die. Her parents were so distraught by the idea of losing their daughter that they returned to the hospital and begged the doctor to refer Anjeli to someone who could cure her. She was then sent to Apollo hospital, the only hospital in the area possibly capable of performing the necessary surgery.

When Anjeli arrived she was severely breathless and her parents had no money making surgery nigh impossible. Almost immediately the surgeon decided to waive his surgical fees as well as the anaesthetist and cardiology fees. Dr Jothi made a donation himself as he felt Anjeli and her family were so desperate. I decided that it would be best perhaps to offer the money that had been donated for Nihidi to Anjeli as it was still an opportunity to save a young girls life who otherwise would have died. Anjeli was seen on Friday by Dr Jothi and operated on on the following Tuesday. After surgery I watched her being taken off the ventilator and moved to the paediatric ward where her mother sat with her every minute she could between having to work as a cleaner. Anjeli recovered very well from her surgery and was walking around normally when she was discharged – something she had been too breathless to do beforehand.

Upon revealing to her parents that I had been responsible for gathering funding for their daughter the father and grandfather dropped to my feet thanking me in the middle of the corridor. It was very emotional and I truly have never seen such a grateful family. Anjeli is now doing well at home and is due for follow-up in 2 months time. I cannot thank MASH and Dylan enough for helping Anjeli so readily and giving her the chance to live as a normal, healthy little girl. The support MASH has provided me with has gone well beyond that I could have expected from any employee and I will be forever grateful to you. Thank you.

Nalini Sethia.



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Posted by

Chris Wareham