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Pasadena Rotary Teams with Counterpart in India to Pay for Kids' Heart Surgeries

Published on Friday, January 11, 2019 | 5:42 am

The Rotary Club of Pasadena is doubling down, expanding its two-year effort to secure heart surgeries for poor children in India by adding a GoFundMe campaign to finance a doubling of the number operations performed or planned to date.

The project, Caring for Little Hearts, started in 2017 when Pasadena Rotary partnered with Rotary Club of Madras South in Chennai, India, to provide surgeries for children and infants in Tamil Nadu, India, diagnosed with congenital heart defects.

J. Sheldon Capeloto, co-chair of Rotary Pasadena’s International Projects Committee, said they’re close to achieving 220 heart operations at the Tamil Nadu hospital, and are aiming to go bigger and finance 500 surgeries by next year.

The goal is to raise a total of $17,500 to pay for approximately 230 more heart surgeries by 2020, the club’s centennial.

“This time, for $88, we can give a surgery, a life-saving surgery, to an infant or a young child in India,” said Capeloto. “We spend that much when we go to Trader Joe’s to buy weekly groceries. It’s just such a wonderful opportunity to give a small amount and do something impactful. I mean, directly save a life.”

The pediatric cardiac surgeries are being performed by Dr. Prashant Shah at the Sooriya Hospital in Tamil Nadu, according to the Rotary Club of Madras South.

“I’ll be personally visiting that club in February to meet the surgeon and some of the young children benefiting from this cause,” Capeloto said. “Again, we hope to extend this two-year process, because there’s only one surgeon who’s performing these surgeries. He’s an angel. He’s performed every single surgery, but he can only do so much.”

On the GoFundMe page, the Rotary Club says about 20 children are born with heart defects in India every hour, and about 5 percent of those children die within a month from lack of proper treatment. It said nearly 12,000 children with heart defects are waiting for surgery in Tamil Nadu alone.

Capeloto said he hopes Rotary’s fundraising goal would be supplemented by a grant they’re applying for with Rotary International.

The GoFundMe page is online here.

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