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SACH: Touching Lives
Chitra Sanam
Have you ever had a newborn squish up your finger in his fist? The tiny, warm and fragile squeeze is known to soften even the most hard-hearted soul, mothers will tell you.

So when doctors say that the size of the fist is exactly the same as that of the heart, you can then imagine how much more gentle the lub dub, lub dub of a little one would be. It continues to be a medical mystery to understand how one of the most complex organs of the human body takes shape and beats 2.5 billion times, to complete its life circle. But not all children grow up to be adults.

Every year, nearly 200,000 children in our country are born with congenital heart disease, and only 5 per cent of them have access to healthcare. The rest struggle to live, and some don’t survive the pain.

“If every ailing child doesn’t get the treatment, then that child wouldn’t live, and we would never know in which way that child would have contributed to the growth of our country,” says Dr Hari Prasad, CEO of Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad, and with that statement, he shares the goal of Apollo’s Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) Foundation.

For a cause
In 2002, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad started working towards building a team of paediatric cardiologists, which is a rare specialization in our country. Even today India has very few doctors with that kind of know-how. A recent study in the Indian Journal of Paediatrics shows that there are very few dedicated pediatric cardiac centres in India, and only 12 paediatric cardio thoracic surgeons and 25 paediatric cardiologists for an OPD of 6500 children per year.

“In most cases, heart surgeons who treat adults, double up to take care of paediatric emergencies. Paediatric cardiology has been a neglected specialty despite the pressing need,” says Dr Hari Prasad. Apollo’s research showed that children with congenital heart diseases most often came from the lower economic strata of the society who couldn’t afford high-end treatment.

That’s why Apollo set up the SACH Foundation to save every such needy child.


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