My hands-on experience with nephrology has involved one jeopardized week during intern year and several weeks of night float, during which I admitted patients to the renal service. Despite talented renal attendings and interesting and complex patients, nephrology is not a system I was ever interested in pursuing, which may have been due in part to the difficulty of the topic and the acuity of the patients. Although I still do not want to pursue nephrology, our experience today at Madras Medical Mission and the Tanker Foundation gave me new insight and appreciation for this system.
When we arrived at the facility, we were surrounded by a more affluent crowd as well as signs that advertised abundance of medical subspecialties (to be discussed in a later post). We were quickly whisked off to Dr. Georgi Abraham’s office and met by a number of recently graduated doctors with whom he was working. When Dr. Abraham arrived, we were not only able to experience his broad wealth of knowledge, but also able to appreciate his dedication to the impoverished portion of the Indian population. He discussed the history surrounding the beginnings of the Tanker Foundation.
The foundation, through a series of donors, has established 5 different dialysis centers throughout India and has been able to provide dialysis free of charge to patients under the legal poverty level and subsidized care to those unable to keep up with the financial demands of long term dialysis. This is truly a remarkable task given the 1.3 billion people who live in India, the growing number of CKD/ESRD patients and the difficulty of providing care to renal patients, even in the most resource rich settings. Additionally, the Tanker Foundation is proactive in regard to education, awareness, prevention and screening, which is arguably the most important part of treating CKD/ESRD, as indicated by the statistic that >50% of their patients present with CKD 5. Interestingly, the foundation has discussed the importance of well-controlled HTN and DM to school age children, who will then be able to carry those values with them throughout their adulthood, but also be able to pass the wisdom on to their parents. It is a promising manner in which to curtail the growing population of CKD/ESRD patients.