Hearts behind the Foundation: R Srivatsan
January 22, 2021 | Contributed by R Srivatsan
With Dr Harapriya Akilan and children supported by Genesis Foundation at Miot Hospital, Chennai.
“Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for that one person”
I was volunteering with Genesis Foundation since 2007, long before I joined the team formally. Meeting Prema & Jyoti Sagar helped me regain faith in many ways, because to see them advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable in the society, that is children, motivated me to work with them for a cause that is equally close to me. From helping out in tasks whenever time permitted, to attending various fundraisers, I was a part of the Foundation in a limited capacity.
After quitting my full-time job in the healthcare domain, I began freelancing. During that time, I came across a seven-year-old girl named Priya from Agra. A young, bright and school-going girl, it was hard to believe that she was suffering from a congenital heart defect. I wanted to help the family in whatever way was possible, so I fixed an appointment and went to AIIMS with them for a doctor’s check-up.
Interacting with a Genesis Foundation
beneficiary, six-month-old Hema in Chennai.
The first thing the doctor told me after her check-up was that Priya could not be cured because she was late for treatment and her lungs had been damaged in the process. In a desperate attempt to explore options, I asked the doctor what could be done and till date I remember her response, ‘Nothing can be done. Nature will take its course.” It was a doctor from AIIMS, one of the top most advanced medical institutions in our country, so I didn’t know who else to turn to. That day I spent four hours with the family telling them the devastating news.
I could not come to terms with the fact that a hole in the heart meant Priya could lose her chance at life. That night was a long sleepless night for me. After three weeks, Priya’s father called me to share the news of her demise and it shook something in me. It became a turning point in my life because that moment made me decide that I had to explore more on Pediatric Cardiology and congenital heart defect treatment in India.
After I formally joined Genesis Foundation in February of 2015, with the help of doctors like Dr V Mahajan and Dr K S Dagar, we began organising screening camps in places like Yamuna Nagar, Begu Sarai, Rohtak, Agra etc. Not only that, being native to the southern part of India myself, I started networking extensively in those parts. My entire time at the Foundation I have been witnessing phenomenal growth as we narrowed down our area of care and support to congenital heart defect treatment in India.
With Dr Krishna Kumar and children supported by Genesis Foundation for heart defects at Amrita Hospital, Cochin
I have always had a special place for children in my heart. More so, after losing my own son in 2004 which is a painful event that is indescribable for me and my wife. This eventchanged the direction of our lives. We understood nothing can be taken for granted and we have finite time on this planet. Thus the seed of helping others sprouted in our life.
And somewhere deep down I still like to believe that the path I am on right now was set for me by our son, with his departure from our lives. It is my way of transforming my own grief into a legacy of love with the families I’m able to help through the work of the Foundation because I am blessed with so many children in my life now.