Rajagopal Kantamneni began helping poor kids suffering from major illnesses after his daughter died from a rare cancer
Rajagopal Kantamneni, 50, who works in a top tech company in Bangalore, got a call out of the blue from an oncologist in Hyderabad. "A 14- year-old boy, Syed Rahil, has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia - a cancer of white blood cells. His parents are too poor to afford the treatment. I will do the operation free of cost, but the other costs have to be borne by someone."
Kantamneni immediately agreed to raise the money, which turned out to be a whopping Rs 3 lakh. And the boy survived.Kantamneni is different from the other philanthropists in that he actively looks for poor children suffering from rare diseases in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He works with doctors through the Kinnara Memorial set up with a corpus fund from friends in the US. Conducting camps in remote hamlets, they have so far helped 3,000 children, 80 of them with major problems.
In the 1990s, Kantamneni was living in the US, along with his family. His elder daughter Kinnara was born in 1995. A few years later, Kinnara accompanied her mother to India and suddenly one day, she stopped playing or even walking. Local pediatricians could not identify the cause, but in the US, she was found to have a tumor in the brain. She was suffering from Ependymoma, one of the rarest of cancers. Only 2,000 such cases have been reported in the last 50 years or so, the doctors said. She succumbed to it in 1999.
So Kantamneni returned to India and took up his life's mission. "We may think India is advanced but there are still so many places where people do not understand what diseases the children have. In a remote village in Andhra Pradesh, we came across a girl who was believed to be blind. Her parents told us that the girl was born with vision, but became blind as they could not afford treatment. We took her to an eye hospital in Hyderabad and found she had cataract. Upon surgery, she regained vision," he told .
They are not always successful. "We took a three-month old baby who was very weak to a big hospital, where the doctor suggested immediate surgery as the girl was suffering from multiple holes in the heart. We had spend almost Rs 2 lakh for medication. Post surgery, the doctor said the girl would be fine provided her parents did not take her to hill stations where the oxygen level is low. However, her parents, who were very religious took her to Srisailam for a pilgrimage and the girl died soon." he said, sadly.