Proceedings: 2015 APCNA Orlando Fundraiser
Report by Raamish Karatela
As the sun began to set and it drew near to Iftar, the 2015 APCNA Fundraiser began in earnest at the Hilton hotel in Orlando, Florida. The familiar handshakes were exchanged and everyone worked together (as is the custom of Pakistanis) to prepare for Iftar—setting the dishes of dates in place, arranging where the chai was to be served, and finally sitting down together at the dinner tables. Enthused conversation between cardiologists sharing the same bond of Pakistani-Descent ensued in the dining room; everyone catching up on the lost time and distance between each other.
After these natural preliminaries, Dr. Wajid Baig was introduced. He gave an in-depth description of exactly how APCNA works together with Heartbeat International and the Rotary Club of Pakistan to keep its main project, The Pacemaker Bank, running smoothly to provide Pacemakers free-of-charge to needy and deserving patients in Pakistan. Five hundred patients and their families in Peshawar, Lahore, and Karachi (the three locations APCNA has established itself so far) have been saved from terminal heart problems due to this effort.
Baig did not stop with merely outlining APCNA’s cause and work. He explained exactly how after receiving funds from the Pacemaker Bank, the hospital sends out its social workers with a specific audit form to assess which patients in the area truly need this help; with the workers going as far to inspect the amount of furniture in the prospective patients’ homes as well as talk to them and their families. Baig showed a copy of the audit form during his presentation, and everyone present was shown the full inner workings and precautions of the process.
Of course, such measures are required to ensure a safe system, and the merits are even more powerful as was shown in the video presented next. Interviews with the patients of the Tabba Heart Institute describing their experiences were shown on the screen: a son tearing up in happiness because of the fact that his mother is alive; a father explaining how he had no means to pay for a Pacemaker implant until a social worker from the hospital, after visiting his home, was able to help him and his family. A doctor from Karachi’s Tabba Heart Institute, Dr. Bashir Hanif, spoke at the meeting. Being one who has the direct experience of curing these patients, he described how truly deserving they are of this service, being mostly hard-working breadwinners of the family, who unfortunately by social circumstance just can’t afford the conventional treatment.
Now, because of your help they can. You are directly involved with this process. Because of the help of all of us who attended the Orlando Conference we have raised $22,700 for the APCNA Pacemaker Bank. Of course, a number does not define the impact we have made, but seeing the faces of all who will now be given their due chance to live this life does!
We thank you for your contribution!
Atique Mirza, MD, President APCNA
Wajid Baig, MD, Chairman APCNA Pacemaker Project
Khurram Moin, MD, Past President, APCNA
APCNA (Association of Pakistani-Descent Cardiologists of North America)