Following a very generous legacy, we established the Tucker Fund to help children from poor families to get the help they needed. Friends of Vellore are currently sending £10,000 per year to cover the cost of treatment for 10 children whose families are unable to pay.

Previously, we sent funds to enable the new post of an Occupational Therapist, specifically to work with two groups of children in the Paediatric Surgery department: those who have suffered major burns and those who have myelomeningocele. Dinesh joined the Department of Paediatric Surgery in November 2016, funded by Friends of Vellore UK for his first three years.

The department admit approximately 80 children with major burns each year. The typical burn patient is a 2 year old with about 24% of his or her body surface affected. He or she spends on an average of 15 days getting medical care. These days are drawn out and etched in the memory of these youngsters and their families for all the wrong reasons.

A young patient on the road to recovery

A young patient on the road to recovery

The occupational therapist will brighten the stay of a child through a process of engagement to ensure that the transition from the hospital to the home and society is planned and facilitated. Burn care is ongoing and continues for at least a year beyond the accident.

Myelomeningocele (MMC) is a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. The condition is a type of spina bifida. The Paediatric Surgery department sees around 70 children less than 15 years of age annually with MMC, 20 of whom are neonates. A newborn with this disorder will undergo surgery to repair the defect and most children will require lifelong treatment for problems that result from damage to the spinal cord and spinal nerves. These include bladder and bowel continence issues and muscle and joint problems.

Children and families affected by the birth of a child with MMC are in need of extra care from the time of their birth. A large proportion are affected by bladder/bowel continence issues which require regular monitoring and timely intervention. Attention in this regard, converts these individuals from withdrawn depressed introverts to engaging personalities, who can enjoy a normal span of life. Dinesh facilitates the achievement of development milestones through teaching stimulatory exercises, giving instruction on daily management and coping strategies and through facilitating the transition to the home and school environment.

Below are links to the stories of Mohammed and Kugan who were Paediatric Surgery patients in 2016, before the Occupational Therapist role began.