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Chennai Doctors Crowdsource Lakhs for Six-Year-Old Boy’s Treatment

Sai Saran was afflicted with dengue, pneumonia and a host of other infections.

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Sai Saran, all of six years old, arrived at the Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital in Chennai with fever on September 27th. Doctors diagnosed him with severe pneumonia, and after two days on a ventilator wasn’t helping, they contacted a team at Fortis Malar.

On 29th September, the boy was connected to an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which helps the lungs to heal and the body to rest. Doctors discovered he had dengue hemorrhagic shock, needed dialysis, and his weak immune system had picked up a serious infection, giving him a 70% risk of mortality.

Sai was in the paediatric intensive care unit for 57 days, connected to the ECMO machine for 33 days. The treatment he underwent for nearly two months cost around Rs 34 lakh.

ECMO (Picture for representative purposes only) Picture Credits: Wikimedia Commons.
ECMO (Picture for representative purposes only) Picture Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

The doctors decided to crowdfund Sai’s treatment.

“It’s rare to put children on ECMO for so long. The bill was mounting, and the child was not recovering, but we decided not to give up. We decided that if parents can’t pay, we’d crowdsource the funds,” said Dr K R Balakrishnan, Cardiac Surgeon, to The Times of India.

Battling pneumonia, dengue, infections and other complications, San Saran went home on Wednesday. The doctors had managed to crowdsource around Rs 18 lakh and had convinced the ECMO manufacturer to provide a discount.

The hospital gave a concession, and the boy’s father paid more than Rs 5 lakh himself.


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Says Dr Bala Ramachandran, the hospital’s chief intensivist, to the Times of India, “Sometimes despite medical insurance people can’t afford treatment. In this case, the patient did not have insurance. We tied up with agencies that help to crowdsource funds and began the process in October.”

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