Matching Grant supports lifesaving heart surgery
Infants receive treatment in an intensive care unit in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, as part of a Foundation Matching Grant project. Photo courtesy of Mike Parry
A 1996 Group Study Exchange (GSE) spawned a project that today is providing lifesaving heart surgery to 100 low-income working women in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
Many of the women contracted rheumatic fever, which can cause abnormal heart function, as children. They are receiving heart valve replacements through a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project supported by the Rotary clubs of Coimbatore Metropolis and Pontllanfraith, Gwent, Wales.
“The women are the daily providers for their families. Their failure to provide such support would leave their children as orphans,” says Mike Parry, governor-nominee of District 1150 (Wales), district Foundation committee chair, and a former GSE team leader to North Carolina, USA.
Three physicians from the Coimbatore Metropolis club are participating in the project, and the Pontllanfraith club is providing financial assistance through District Designated Fund allocations.
The effort is one of five Foundation Matching Grant projects that have grown out of the relationship between the two clubs since the GSE. All have focused on meeting people’s health needs while protecting their livelihoods. The others are as follows:
- A recently completed project enabled 83 industrial workers injured on the job to regain the use of their hands through reconstructive microsurgery. The effort was headed by S. Raja Sabapathy of the Coimbatore Metropolis club, who had observed pioneering techniques in microsurgery as a GSE team member to Denmark in the 1980s. Sabapathy applied the techniques at a Coimbatore hospital, helping the facility develop a reputation for excellence in the field. He also encouraged two other surgeons to become GSE participants.
- While carrying out the microsurgery project, the medical team also encountered many children who had injured their hands in nonindustrial accidents. The two clubs obtained a Matching Grant to help fund the cost of surgery for 67 young people.
- A “womb to cradle” project provided prenatal care to pregnant working mothers, helping them return to their jobs in good health after childbirth.
- A neonatal intensive care unit, established through a project to promote the health of newborns, is protecting infants’ lives while allowing their mothers to continue working.
A visit to Coimbatore in February proved rewarding for Parry; Richard Bullen, leader of the 1996 GSE team to India; and Pontllanfraith Rotarian Allan Martin.
“We were present for the launch of the heart valve replacement project, to attend the Rotary Club of Coimbatore Metropolis’s 25th anniversary celebration, to share experiences with an incoming GSE team from District 5190 [parts of California and Nevada, USA], and to observe preparations for a polio National Immunization Day,” Parry says. “This reinforced how Rotary is a family and one Foundation program affects other programs.”
Written for Reconnections.
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