A young woman is dying, and we are trying to save her. Please help if you can. If you’re not sure of our relationship with KHEL, we are a part of the KHEL family in many ways; Headwaters/Delta Interfaith is a KHEL-supported project; HDI director Saumya Haas’s mom founded KHEL in the early 1980s (it’s also where she received her first interfaith training), and today we work closely with them on social equity issues in India.
Ruchi* is an 8th grader at Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underprivileged children in Dehradun, India. Ruchi has been at LDA since since nursery school. Until she got sick she was a great student who loved school, worked hard to keep up her grades and took part enthusiastically in school activities. Ruchi’s family believes in education; she has three younger siblings and all of them are studying at LDA – Rajesh* (7th grade), Savitri* (5th grade) and Asha* (3rd grade). Her mother, Kiran, stays home and looks after the family. Her father, Munesh, is a loading truck driver and makes about rs4,000 a month. That’s less than US$90 a month to support a family of 6. According to the World Bank, the international poverty line for one person is US$1.25 per day; each member of Ruchi’s family is living on 50 cents per day. The family lives in a two room exposed brick hut on the outskirts of the wild forests that surround Shiv Puri Colony. One room doesn’t have a roof and is covered with tarp.
In July 2012, Ruchi complained about her eyes. Her parents took her to Doon, the local government hospital which is cheaper than the private hospitals, for treatment. We don’t know what medications they gave her or what the diagnosis was because for poor people it’s very difficult to get information from the doctors. She was treated for a while and seemed to get better. Her parents were very relieved. Ruchi then contracted Typhoid. In December 2012 she was terribly weak and the doctor who treated her eyes realised that something was seriously wrong with her. He suggested she go to Bharat Heart Hospital. There, she was diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), a result of having had rheumatic fever at some time in the past. She has Severe AR (Aortic Regurgitation) and Moderate MR (Mitral Regurgitation). Both kidneys and her bladder are infected. She will need to have a heart valve replaced in the future, which is estimated to cost between rs2-5 lakhs** (US$4,500-11,000). Even if Ruchi’s family sells everything they own, they will not have this much money.
Beni Bhatt, KHEL’s General Manager, and some of the teachers went to visit Ruchi. Her parents had brought her home and didn’t know what to do next; they didn’t want their daughter to die but the amounts of money needed for her care were too overwhelming. Kiran was scared for her daughter, and scared to go to any more hospitals because they just didn’t have money. Beni suggested the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT). At HIHT Ruchi was further diagnosed with kidney problems; one kidney had failed and she needed dialysis and other treatments to keep her other kidney. She had one treatment of dialysis. Then, HIHT asked the family to deposit rs40,000 ($890) with their accounting department and informed them that Ruchi’s treatment would cost more than rs25,000 ($555) per day. There is no way the family could afford this so they took Ruchi home. When Beni realised Ruchi was at home not getting any treatment, he went again to visit the family and gave them some encouragement to keep trying to find help for her. They took her to a government doctor with a private practice, and after seeing Ruchi he admitted her to the ICU of Doon Hospital. She was very weak so Beni and one of her relatives donated blood; in India, there isn’t a large blood supply kept at hospitals. In order to receive blood, someone must donate to the blood bank on behalf of the patient. Beni has done this in the past, when there wasn’t a healthy relative available to donate blood on behalf of a sick LDA child. Sunil, the guard at LDA, has also donated blood for Ruchi.
At Doon Hospital, Ruchi got treated for rs3,000 ($67). She was sent home with medications but had to be taken back to the ICU after a day or two. She needs blood transfusions to keep her kidneys functioning, and now has a bladder infection. She needs to have attained a certain level of health before she can be evaluated for heart surgery. The cost for her medications every week is rs865 ($20). We don’t know how long she’ll need to be on medications before the doctors will consider her for surgery.
In addition to rs865 per week for her ongoing medications, Ruchi’s family owes HIHT about rs20,000 ($445) and have borrowed rs16,000 ($355) from their relatives. They’ve paid out about rs12,000 ($267)for various hospitals, tests, medications and transportation. They owe Doon Hospital an undetermined amount of money (the bill is handed to you when you leave; it’s next to impossible to get this information while you’re still in the hospital). KHEL has given them rs6,000 ($135); we want to give them more but our emergency funds are very limited. Mrs. Arya, KHEL’s Founder, and other staff members visited Ruchi’s home and took some groceries to her family.
Can you share this with your friends? Can you make a donation to help Ruchi? If you or anyone you know is interested in contributing to Ruchi’s fund please contact Stomya Persaud, KHEL’s Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on KHEL or to make a donation, please visit our website www.khelcharities.org where you can make a donation via Paypal or credit card. Please indicate that your donation is for Ruchi. Checks can be mailed to KHEL, 1161 Wayzata Blvd., #215, Wayzata, MN 55391. KHEL is registered in the US and India as a nonprofit; if you live in either of these two countries your donation is tax deductible. Wire transfers can also be arranged. Visit us on Facebook at KHEL Charities to see our most up-to-date activities.
*Names changed to protect the identity of minor children.
**The wide range in estimated cost is determined by two factors: 1) when she needs surgery and 2) what hospital is available at that time. We have dealt with AIIMS in Delhi for another student, Shashi*, who needed a similar surgery several years ago. Now, there is a private hospital in Dehradun that provides this service; it is much more expensive but has more availability for surgery dates, and Ruchi may be too unwell to go to Delhi. If we raise more funds than needed for Ruchi, the remaining funds will be held in a fixed deposit for her. Our experience with Shashi taught us that these funds are needed for future medical care such as added nutrition, ongoing doctor visits, monthly medications and transportation in Dehradun - Shashi is unable to exert himself, can’t ride a bike to school so we pay for an open taxi (a three wheeler or ‘putt putt’ as they are locally known), has tests every three months, goes to Delhi for a checkup every 6-8 months and is on monthly blood thinners and other medications. We continue to support his needs with the money remaining from what we raised for his surgery. Funds donated for Ruchi will only be used for Ruchi. If we are unable to save her, her funds will be used to help her three younger siblings with healthcare and education.