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Jan 2, 2009

New Year Celebrations At Free Cancer Ward

New Year celebrations at the free cancer ward for children at the Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research in Coimbatore on Thursday. For 16 cancer patients, most of them children and a few of them teenagers, the event on Thursday evening sought to provide some relief from pain. They clapped when young Monisha cut the New Year cake and their parents joined the celebrations at the free cancer ward for children at the Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research. The children are the beneficiaries of a free bed scheme. Children from poor families are treated here with funds from philanthropists or voluntary organisations. The doctors do not take consultation fees. But, funds from contributors are needed for medicines, equipment and blood (for transfusion).


Director of the institute P. Guhan is glad that the ward has provided succour to poor young patients and their parents. But, it is struggling to provide it. The cost of treatment, especially medicines, has gone up. So, more contributions are needed. The free treatment began in 2003 in the general ward itself. The following year, a Rs.50 lakh corpus donated by industrialist Muthusamy Naidu helped in creating the free ward. Muthusamy Naidu died of cancer that was treated at this institute. The corpus was his parting gift to children suffering from cancer. The ward has so far treated 122 cases with a cure rate of 76 per cent, according to Dr. Guhan.


But, the ward’s requirements have exceeded what this corpus can provide. A few good gestures keep the free scheme going, says Dr. Guhan. Managing Director of Emerald Jewel Industries K. Srinivasan provides Rs. 25,000 every month, he says. The Sun Foundation has given Rs. 10 lakh. Hotel Annapoorna provides free food thrice a day. Krishnaveni, wife of a textile unit owner, has provided Rs. 5 lakh. Dr. Guhan names the individuals or organisations to point out how much their contributions have helped in sustaining the scheme till now. The ward got a surprise New Year’s gift in the form of contributions from Voice of the Youth for Clean Environment (VOYCE). Consisting of mostly college students, VOYCE has promised funds every month, he said.

On why the ward looks for more funds, Dr. Guhan says that apart from paediatric cancer cases, it also wants to offer free treatment for adults, especially breadwinners of families, who suffer from cancers that are at a curable stage. Help can come through the corporate-social responsibility programmes in private firms. The treatment for blood cancer is Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh. “Doctors who get samples of costly antibiotics can hand these over to us instead of discarding them,” says Dr. Guhan. Apart from funds, free medicines will be of great help.

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