Are you CHD Aware this month?
Everyone knows the month of February is a month for hearts.For some it is their own hearts, and for others a matter of other hearts. Let me try and explain what I mean by this… for some of us this is a day where we like to shower our loved ones with extra love. For new lovers it may be an opportunity to give flowers or send a cheeky message to someone you fancy!
These are affairs of our own hearts.
Many people aren’t aware that this is also a month for other hearts, littleones who are struggling to beat the next beat. It is a month to be #CHDAware of the tiny hearts around the world who suffer from an ailment called a congenital heart defect. As someone working in the NGO space, a children heart foundation called Genesis Foundation that focuses on little kids from lesser privileged backgrounds who suffer from CHD. I wanted to spend this month visiting as many kids as possible who’s surgeries we have supported.
It is such visits that hold us close to the work that we do every day. We get caught up in front of our screens and the cause becomes something we speak about with great knowledge, but we forget to truly feel for.
I met four families in the time span of one week and there’s one particular family and baby that stole my heart during CHD awareness month and that’s a story I want to tell.
A ten-month-old baby who’s story I was editing right before the visit. I remember looking at his pictures and thinking, “wow that’s one cute baby!” But when I saw him in the ICU attached to so many machines, he became real. The family’s pain and burden became real. I was now truly connected to the story that I had written just hours before.
I had the chance to meet his father Neeraj, a humble gentleman to say the least who exuded a deep sense of gratitude. He didn’t even need to say a word, his vibes said it all. Neeraj had to be the brave face through this tough time as his wife Jyoti was in Gurgaon struggling with her own health. We went in together to see little Riyansh and behind the scrubs, was Neeraj trying to gain control of his emotions. I watched him battle his tears and succumb to heaving sobs, as he watched his young one distressed. Riyansh kept kicking the sheet the nurse had placed over him, he didn’t want it on. He didn’t want anything on him. He wanted to be free, like any baby his age. Being a mother, all I could do was try and imagine the pain Neeraj would have been going through at the time. Riyansh was not even a year old, but he was staring right into the eyes of his father probably wishing he could be held. But from an arms distance Neeraj had to assure his son that all would be okay, not to cry.
As he walked out of the ICU, he turned into complete jelly. As if his legs could no longer carry him. He fell into the arms of Zahir, an assistant at the hospital who helps with the arrangement of rooms. He wanted to be consoled, to be told that it’s alright, Riyansh would be okay. I tried to fight back my tears while I told him, “don’t worry he will be better than ever now. He is okay. He’s just recovering and will be better in no time.” This moment on its own was a true testament of humanity. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how much you have, what language you speak… it boils down to one thing, compassion.
We have compassion for families who cannot treat their children because they just don’t have enough money. This is why we do the work we do, try and raise the funds we can.
Ask yourself, is the lack of money a reason a family should lose their child? Without even trying? We bridge this gap for the family and ensure that at least the basic right to treatment is given to the child, so he/she can live.
Each one of us at GF are #CHDAware and we urge everyone around to take a moment to read a little on how much CHD strains the lives of young lives in our country.
Riyansh is one such life we have been able to save. He is one story I would like to highlight during this month. Neeraj and Jyoti have their son today because a small community of supporters were able to come together with a children heart foundation such as ours and take the financial burden off the family.
Neeraj works as a nurse in their hometown – Agra. He earns a salary of not more than Rs 7000 per month. A surgery of Rs 2.5 Lakhs was way over his means. He was able to put Rs 10,000 towards to the surgery and the rest was given by Max India Foundation, and our CSR partner Oracle. Riyansh has now been treated for Tetralogy of Fallot – a type of CHD where there is a hole present between the lower chambers of the heart. Neeraj recalls when Riyansh was only five months old, his baby boy started turning blue around 1am. Both husband and wife rushed him to hospital, where they were asked to admit the baby to Pushpanjali Hospital, in Agra. Neeraj joined his hands and surrendered to god as admitting him in the recommended hospital was not possible. It was well over his means. He was then finally given the contact of Dr Neeraj Awasthy in Max Hospital, Saket… which is when the case was brought to our awareness.
I am grateful that I was able to spend a month of hearts visiting a few of our own special little hearts… bringing me back to the work that I have been immersed in the past three years and why I do it.
Next year – don’t forget when you are making plans for valentine’s day maybe you would like to make a little one your valentine?
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