The work, sacrifices and contribution of doctors have recently gained great prominence and recognition. With a pandemic wreaking havoc over the country, many of them have been the only synonyms of hope. For some of them, however, this recognition has been long overdue. Taking a simple behavior like giving, online comes with its own set of challenges in a vast and diverse country like ours, and the story of evolution of online crowdfunding in India would be incomplete without the role of doctors.
Specialized and life-saving medical treatments often cause people to travel to bigger cities in hope of better care facilities. Doctors are the primary point of contact, and often face scenarios where patients go back home to make arrangements for treatment after hearing a diagnosis of a cancer or a failing organ. Many of them are never able to make it back. Still others run out of funds over the treatment period and are forced to leave mid-way (against medical advice), as debts pile up.
It was in mid-late 2016 that we saw the first instances of doctors contacting us to help patients continue or avail treatment. Some doctors even set-up fundraisers for patients and made an attempt to raise funds from their own networks. Dr. Revathy Raj from Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, a pediatric hematologist was among the first doctors to work with us. Doctor Sunil Bhat has performed life-saving bone marrow transplants on tens of children whose parents had no means to save their child, and Doctor Sonal Asthana has performed liver transplants on children with no means to
There are countless other doctors including Dr. Prashant Bachina from Hyderabad who have, since then, continually identified and lent their support to patients in need through crowdfunding. So much, that today, crowdfunding is quickly emerging to be a promising alternative financing option for medical emergencies. Milaap currently works with thousands of hospitals across the country to make crowdfunding for urgent medical needs hassle-free for patients and their families. This hastens the process of verification, collection of medical documents and fund transfer. In other words, there are thousands of people (especially children) alive in the country today because some doctors chose to go out of their way, and do a little more for their patients
The Covid-19 outbreak sent the world reeling into weeks of uncertainty. We have heard heartbreaking instances of doctors being on the receiving end of stigma and violence. We have also heard of desperate measures taken by doctors to extend care despite the lack of personal protective equipment. We have heard of the sacrifices they are making to be available at our service, and of the dire need for more of them.
Even while the country was divided over their opinions about whose primary responsibility it should be to ensure the safety of medical and frontline workers, there were thousands of people who came forward to set up an online fundraiser and get help to procure the same. Among regular citizens lobbying support for the doctors they cared about, there were also doctors like Dr. Kalyan Chakravarty and Dr. Hrishikesh Giri, from renowned public and private healthcare organizations who started a fundraiser for PPE kits, so that they and their colleagues could continue rendering their services to those in need. Support has poured in from all over the world for these causes and hundreds of kits have been distributed through these efforts. Lakhs of donors have also stepped forth to show their support to the medical fraternity through digital channels, and have found a way to stand by these heroes.
This doctors’ day, let’s take a moment to recognize these doctors: not just their profession, but also the people that it makes them into. The idea of problems we cannot solve can often stand in the way of our will to do something about the ones we can. If I have learned one thing from doctors, it is that no problem in the world can be solved if we were to let that happen. After all, as they say, you are what you do, and not what you say you will do.
The author is President and co-founder, Milaap: South Asia’s largest crowdfunding platform.
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