Why families of young patients turn to crowdfunding for bone marrow transplant

Prohibitive medical costs make parents turn to online fundraising to afford critical treatment for their children

WHEN people face a sudden medical hardship, they are in a fix, wondering about the expensive treatments. The biggest question is how to raise funds for medical treatment without going bankrupt. Ananya Ghosh’s family faced the same question after her cancer relapsed. Doctors told her family that the only shot at life for the 17-year-old was a bone marrow transplant worth ₹15 lakh.

After selling their land, Ananya’s parents moved to Mumbai from Kolkata during her first bout with cancer and spent around ₹20 lakh for her treatment. When they thought Ananya had won the battle, the cancer returned. Her parents had no means to raise funds for medical treatment, and they turned to GiveIndia, India’s largest online crowdfunding platform.

After a sustained campaign by GiveIndia, Ananya’s family raised the required amount for the surgery, thanks to hundreds of people donating anywhere between ₹100 and ₹1 lakh for the cause.

Whether it is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that Ananya was suffering from or other forms of diseases that require a bone marrow transplant – when the chances of survival are very high – parents of young patients, who cannot afford medical treatment are turning to online crowdfunding hoping that they will raise the funds.

Take the case of Varad, an 11-year-old aspiring cricketer suffering from a rare condition called Aplastic Anaemia. The only way to save Varad was a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Having exhausted all their savings, Varad’s parents turned to online crowdfunding through GiveIndia. The required amount was ₹35 lakh. Thanks to donations from scores of people and a generous grant from an Indian cricketer, Varad could successfully undergo surgery at a Mumbai hospital.

In India, families with little or no insurance cover are forced to dip into their savings or take loans at high interest rates to take care of their dear ones. Many families of young patients with no access to raise funds for medical expenses are often forced to stop treatment.

But with greater awareness, more and more people are turning to online fundraising for medical treatment. And when it involves children who require expensive bone marrow transplants but have high chances of survival after the surgery, asking good Samaritans online to donate is one way of raising funds for medical expenses.

Though the concept of raising funds for medical expenses through online crowdfunding platforms is relatively new in India, it is taking off in a big way. Crowdfunding platforms give hope to patients and their families as they can share their appeal for funds with their relatives, friends, and people at large so contributions can pay for mounting medical bills.

An online crowdfunding platform like GiveIndia, with an extensive database of donors and regular visitors, can play an important role too. It can help amplify the medical fundraisers that require urgent attention through mailers, social media and other digital marketing tools so that more and more donors can be reached.

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