Conversation with the finest Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon
On the early evening of November 1st, this year, I was fortunate enough to catch Dr V Mohan Reddy, MD (Chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCSF and Co-Director of the Pediatric Heart Center at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital – San Francisco) in between trips to the Operating Room in Oakland, California. Dr Reddy travels around the Bay area and around the globe saving the lives of some of the most vulnerable children.
In the pause between saving lives, I took advantage of Dr Reddy’s generous gift of his time to ask how he learned about the Genesis Foundation (GF), for which he is a medical board member. He explained that his long-time friend and colleague from his college days, Dr Krishna Kumar (currently Clinical Professor and Head of the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre in Kochi, India and also a GF medical board member) spoke to him about the program.
Dr Reddy has visited the institute in Kochi multiple ties and has remained involved for at least three years. He was impressed by the volume of patient care, serving hundreds of children each year, and he was moved by the passion of one mother to make a difference in the lives of India’s children and families after losing her own child to CHD.
I asked Dr Reddy, what do North Americans like me should understand about how health care in India differs from our own experiences and why the Genesis foundation is so important. He explained that the United States and Canada both “do an excellent job of evaluating patients and supporting severe cases,” in all states and provinces. We have a network of clinical social workers and hospitals communicating about how to escalate severe cases. That is not so in India where rural populations and cultural and linguistic diversity across the states creates delays and confusion in referring cases to the best physicians.
In the United States children are often born into their parents’ health care plans or eligible for medicaid and Canada has a single payer system. However, in India, the twenty-nine states’ healthcare options vary widely, and it’s often difficult to even find out a proper diagnosis and the best place to seek care. Furthermore, it’s unlikely for most children in India to have any health care coverage at all. So, for those families who cannot afford to travel to a surgery centre, much less the cost of surgery, the Genesis Foundation is quite literally a life-saving organization. To those who want to make a difference and wonder “How do I help save the life of a critically ill child?” Genesis Foundation steps in and truly makes this a possibility.
I asked Dr Reddy, in the short time we had left, how I, as the mother of a child born with life threatening heart defects in the United States can help the mission of the Genesis Foundation. I asked if I should talk to my son’s cardiology team about volunteering and supporting the Genesis Foundation, and he enthusiastically agreed.
I’m so grateful to Dr Reddy for explaining the differences and challenges families like mine face in India to get quality cardiac care for their children. Rather than make me sad about the discrepancies, Dr Reddy motivated me to find ways to share the mission of the Genesis foundation as they rise to the challenge instead of run from it. It was an inspiring conversation with one of the world’s best surgeons, and I’m honoured by this opportunity!
–Contributed by Amanda Rose Adams, GF Volunteer (United States of America) Author of the 2012 book Heart Warriors, A Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease.
If you are wondering how do I help save the life of a critically ill child? Please contact Genesis Foundation directly by writing to