Enjoy Your Donations While Those in Need Benefit: The Surgical Services Initiative

By Dr. J. Gnanaraj and Dr. Sungtiakum Jamir

Millions of people donate to charitable or non-profit organizations each year, to support ideas and causes that are important to them. This allows them to help their fellow people, while promoting the values that they believe in. Some people are motivated by internal reasons, while others are motivated by external factors, such as recognition, or combination of internal and external reason(1, 2).

What do the donors expect? Primarily they expect integrity from the recipient organization (3). It has also been found that major donors look at their gifts as investments. It has been noted that major donors who also volunteer tend to give much more. Donors also like new ideas and return on investments.

We describe how the Surgical Services Initiative (SSI) (4) helps to meet both the needs of the recipients and the donors. It will also help the donors find innovative ways of spending their holidays.

The Concept

SEESHA (Samiti for Education, Environment, Health and Social Action) is a charitable trust involved in organizing diagnostic and surgical camps (5). The Surgical Services Initiative plans to organize working holidays for doctors who wish to donate their services and money, to help the poor and the marginalized to have advanced surgical care in remote and rural areas.

The doctors can enjoy holiday packages in remote, rural, virgin areas, and at the same time, help with the diagnostic or surgical camp, in addition to subsidizing the treatment costs of the patients. They can see firsthand how the money that they donate is being utilized and have the joy of meeting the people who are grateful for their donations.

How It Works

SEESHA and SSI plan for the diagnostic and surgical camps in Northeast India and other parts of the country. They advertise the dates to those who register for the program. The local hospital arranges sight-seeing along with the diagnostic or surgical camp where the doctors can help. The spouses and other family members can enjoy sight-seeing, and the doctors can join in whenever they would like to. The donors pay for their sight-seeing program and accommodation, and they can either sponsor part or all of the diagnostic or surgical camp, or make any earmarked donations.

Previous Donors’ Experiences

Professional Satisfaction:

  1. TEACHING NEW SKILLS: The visiting surgeons taught new skills to the local surgeons, thus upgrading their skills and the facilities available at the hospital. For instance, the donors taught laparoscopic surgeries at mission hospitals. The local surgeons learnt both basic and advanced laparoscopic surgeries from visiting surgeons. They also taught new low-cost methods of treating fractures and surgeries for cleft lip.
  2. DOING A LARGE NUMBER OF SURGERIES: The availability of visiting surgeons helped the local hospitals do many surgeries in a day—as many as 25 in a day, in some places.
  3. DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES: Many of the visiting surgeons helped with diagnostic procedures like ultrasound examination, gastroduodenoscopy, cystoscopy, etc., while another team proceeded with the surgeries.

The feedback from the visiting donors was that they were extremely happy that their special talents could be used to serve the poor, and more importantly, the local surgeons were able to continue to do whatever that they learnt.

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