Dr. Moopen’s Foundation (DM Foundation), the organization set up by Aster DM Healthcare Chairman Dr. Azad Moopen, has once again proven that saving lives has no boundaries. In a unique multi-country charity initiative, a rare cardiac corrective surgery was successfully performed on Joneil Dasain, a 5-year-old boy from the Philippines at the Aster Medcity, Kochi. Conducted under the aegis of DM Foundation’s ‘Save the Little Hearts’ initiative, the surgery was carried out by a team of Indian specialists led by Dr. Sajan Koshy, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Cardiac Surgery, Center of Excellence in Cardiac Sciences, Aster Medcity, Kochi.
Indeed, the world becomes small when we reach out to care. The ‘Save the Little Hearts’ program has been helping indigent Filipino children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) by providing free surgical treatment within the Aster DM Healthcare network. For the first time, a child coming straight from the Philippines is able to be flown to India for this much needed heart surgery at the world-class Aster Medcity.
“Joneil presented with bluish coloration of fingertips and lips and problems in breathing, all resulting from the congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. This should ideally have been corrected in the first year after birth. The procedure was not free from risk due to his age. But we decided to take up the challenge. The child was evaluated by our expert team of specialists and a five hour long surgery was successfully undertaken,” commented Dr. Sajan Koshy, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Cardiac Surgery, CoE Cardiac Sciences.
In Tetralogy of Fallot, abnormalities in the structure of the heart result in blood with insufficient oxygen circulating through the body causing the various symptoms like cyanosis (bluish discoloration) of nails, lips and skin, tiredness and breathlessness. If left untreated, the defect has a 50% mortality rate in the first three years of life in addition to causing delay in growth and development.
Since the program was started, the DM Foundation has helped 26 Filipino children from disadvantaged families, who cannot afford to have their children treated for congenital heart disease to undergo corrective cardiac surgery. In addition, about 750 children have benefited from the ‘Save the Little Hearts’ program across various geographies. These children, primarily from India, but also from Afghanistan and Africa have received free or subsidized treatment from Aster DM Healthcare facilities channelized through the DM Foundation and its associates including MIMS Charitable Trust and other support associations.
Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare and Founder of DM Foundation, is a physician turned entrepreneur and philanthropist. During his early career, he had witnessed many families struggling to afford specialised treatment for many complex and critical health conditions. He founded the DM Foundation to help such patients and it is under this foundation that the not-for-profit initiatives of Aster DM Healthcare and Dr Azad Moopen’s family are being carried out.
Commenting on this unique initiative, Dr. Azad Moopen, said, “There are many children who are not able to reach their full potential because of congenital heart disease. Coming from poor backgrounds, the parents also cannot afford to have their children treated. The philosophy of our foundation is to provide quality healthcare to the deserving and make a difference in their lives. We are happy that DM Foundation has enabled Joneil to get the treatment to put him back on the path to a bright future. We look forward to helping more such children in the future through our efforts.”
Aster DM Healthcare-Philippines Country Head Joyce Alumno emphasized, “Five children are diagnosed with CHD for every 1,000 live births. Reports show that every nine minutes, a child below 15 years old dies of heart disease. We are grateful that through the selfless heart of Dr. Moopen and the expertise of our doctors in India, children like Joneil are given a chance to enjoy a quality of life like any normal child.”
“We want to do more. In fact, we have a line of possible beneficiaries needing urgent attention. However, we are unable to do so because of the long queue in the hospitals. With the success of Joneil’s case, we can now say, we can make this happen,” Alumno said.
Lance Masters, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Manila supported the DM Foundation and has accompanied the patient and his mother to India. He has documented Jolien’s journey to health on his Facebook page. He said, “Jolien’s free cardiac surgery has been possible thanks to a truly remarkable philanthropist, Dr Azad Moopen, who has designated 20% of his wealth to his charitable foundation dedicated to assisting poor people with catastrophic medical issues. In the Philippines, Dr. Moopen has committed to helping 50 indigent children with congenital heart defects through the DM Foundation’s ‘Save the Little Hearts’ program. I am honoured to work with the Foundation in this noble mission."
Dr. Harish Pillai, Cluster Head for Kerala & CEO Aster Medcity said, “The successful procedure is yet another testament of the exemplary skills of Aster Medcity’s talented team of doctors at our advanced world class quaternary healthcare facility. We are happy that the child is now recovering well and can look forward to lead a normal life.”
About DM Foundation
DM Foundation is the broad umbrella under which the CSR and social activities of Aster DM Healthcare and Dr. Moopen’s Family Foundation are being carried out. DM Foundation works in tandem with associate organizations such as MIMS Charitable Trust. The activities of Dr. Moopen’s Foundation are focussed in India, Middle East, Africa, Philippines, Afghanistan etc. Various programmes of the Foundations are categorized under Free Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Programme (Save The Little Heart), Early Diseases Detection & Cancer Screening Centres (EDDCs), Community Dialysis Centres (CDCs), Radiation Oncology Centres, Doctor on Calls “Mobile Clinics”, Health & Safety Awareness Programme, Free or Subsidized Treatments, MILES Village Adoption – Socio Economic Intervention etc.
About Aster DM Healthcare
Established in 1987, Aster DM Healthcare currently owns and operates a network of more than 290 institutions across the Middle East and India, covering an array of healthcare verticals including clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and a modern medical city. These network units are consolidated under the brand names ASTER, MEDCARE, ACCESS, ASTER Medcity and ASTER MIMS. The health facilities include 14 hospitals that offer primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary care in order to meet the requirements of people from a cross section of the society. In 2015, Aster opened its first ambulatory care center in the Philippines.