The Healer’s Journal: My Journey of Choosing to Help Those in Need - Blog



The Healer’s Journal: My Journey of Choosing to Help Those in Need

February 20, 2024 | Contributed by Dr. M. Kalyanasundaram

I completed MBBS, MD and DNB cardiology at Kilpauk medical college, Chennai, Madras medical college Chennai and Care Institute of Medical Science, Hyderabad in 1986, 1993 and 2003 respectively.  After completion of the cardiology course, I joined Care Hospital, Hyderabad as a consultant cardiologist in the department of adult cardiology. While I was working in the adult cardiology department, I started to get specially interested in pediatric cardiology since the treatment rendered to adult cardiac diseases were mostly of palliative care as against children heart treatment which were mostly of curative in nature. But the main challenges which we faced in the treatment of pediatric cardiac diseases were financial support for the treatment since most of the children were from very poor families. Though there was not much scope and hope, both financially and in terms of the number of cases, in that field at that time and I was determined to continue my carrier in that field and joined the pediatric cardiology department in 2004.

I found treating children who could get a chance to live and grow very rewarding

The main reason for me to join pediatric cardiology was that most of the pediatric cardiac diseases were curable and reating those patients would be extremely rewarding.  The second reason was that there were not many takers for this specialty because it was a financially non-viable profession. Because of the inadequate knowledge about the heart diseases and the treatment availability, many medical fraternity and public were reluctant to send the eligible children for the treatment.

Building Awareness

So, I started to educate medical personnel by conducting Continuous Medical Education (CME) programme through Indian Association of Pediatric (IAP) and Indian Medical Association (IMA). Then I also started to create awareness about the need of treatment for the heart diseases in children among public by conducting various medical camps in many districts in Tamil Nadu with the help of NGOs like Ekam foundation, government hospitals and other congenital heart foundation India. The final hurdle I faced was financial support for the treatment. Initially we could get some help from rotary club and some philanthropists. This wasn’t sufficient to support all the children since a greater number of cases were piling up. Later we got the support of various government health scheme supports like Prime Minster and Chief Minister relief funds and Chief Minister Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CMCHIS). This reduced the financial burden to some extent. But in some cardiac conditions, the government supported schemes were not sufficient to cover the entire treatment expenditures. This is because the amount sanctioned for each treatment is fixed under those schemes. Any extra expenditure that goes beyond the sanctioned amount are not compensated by those government schemes. To circumvent these financial problems, we started to look forward to funding agencies, like CSR funds, NGOs like Genesis foundation. With the help of these agencies, we could ease our financial burden to some more extent and thereby support a greater the number of patients with a good outcome.

At a screening camp in Tamil Nadu

Cardiac diseases in children are treated through three methods, and they are medical management, Transcatheter treatment (without open surgery) and open-heart surgery. Medical management is done till automatic cure occurs or to postpone till either transcatheter treatment or open-heart surgery are planned.

Every year 240000 children are born with congenital heart diseases but only 40 % are able to get treatment fully. This low percentage of treatment is due to a lack of awareness among the medical fraternity and public about availability of treatment for the congenital heart diseases, unavailability of adequate number of trained pediatric cardiologists and cardiothoracic medical personnels and inadequate number of specialized centers in India to treat such complex cardiac diseases.

Speaking at a conference on Congenital Heart Defects

The last but not the least hurdles are the lack of financial support for the treatment of those children. This is also the important reason too for the people not to pursue pediatric cardiology course and the medical centers not to set up pediatric cardiology and pediatric cardiothoracic surgical programme in their hospitals.

We need a greater number of NGOs, child heart foundation India, CSR funds and philanthropists support to continue to treat these underprivileged children. By doing so, these children can get in to mainstream of life in the society like any normal person.


Dr. M. Kalyanasundaram
Pediatric Cardiologist at G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital, Coimbatore

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