Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Govt plan helps 35 kidney patients get free transplants


Mumbai: Mulund resident Ashok Jaiswal is working after a gap of four years. Between bouts of weakness and thricea-week dialysis, the 32-year-old could never dream of financing a kidney transplant for himself. But the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGAY), the state government’s free surgical treatment for families earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum, came to his rescue eight months ago. 
    “My mother donated one of her kidneys to me. Our operations were done for free at Sion Hospital,” said Jaiswal, who works at a lottery stall in Ghatkopar. 
    Thirty-four other kidneyfailure patients have benefitted similarly since the scheme came into being 15 months ago. “We plan to increase this number by a lot more in the future,” said RGAY CEO Dr K Venkatesam. While the insurance plan allows coverage of Rs 1.5 lakh per year for a family, the limit is Rs 2.5 lakh for kidney treatment, including immunosuppressive drug therapy for a year. Seven city hospitals are empanelled by RGAY to per
form kidney transplants. 
    Some problems remain. Take the case of Geeta Pednekar, a Parel resident who underwent a transplant on July 3. “My sister’s dialysis sessions before her transplant were funded by RGAY,” said her brother Kedar. 
    She got a call from Sion Hospital at 3am asking whether she would be willing for a cadaveric (deceased donor) transplant. The family did not realize they could contact the RGAY helpline to register the operation. “We had some money and borrowed the rest from friends to pay for the operation,” Kedar said. As prior permission is needed to avail of RGAY funding, the Pednekars cannot get reimbursed. 
    Sachin Shipai (29) from Alibaug got only partial benefit from the scheme when he underwent a transplant at a private hospital in the city three months ago. 
    “I had to pay Rs 80,000 of my own to the hospital because it charged for the operation of my donor—my mother,” he said. 
    Dr Venkatesam said, “There are some grievances and we are looking into them.”

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