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Crowd-funding failed to save her life, but love survived

posted Nov 25, 2014, 1:52 AM by J Shaw   [ updated Nov 25, 2014, 1:53 AM ]
People from all walks of life had raised ₹75 lakh in record time to fund 11-year-old Sneha Paul’s treatment

It is the kind of effort that makes one optimistic about humanity.

Thousands in Kerala joined hands to ‘crowd-fund’ a whopping ₹75 lakh in record time, hoping that it would save an 11-year-old schoolgirl with multiple organ failure. But young Sneha Paul breathed her last on Saturday, breaking the hearts of all those praying for her recovery.

In Kumbalangi — her village near Kochi — private buses plied with posters that had a picture of her smiling along with the caption ‘Ee Chiri Maayilla’ (this smile will never fade).

Sneha had been diagnosed with flawed kidneys at age three, and over the past three years had undergone hundreds of dialysis. Her key organs failed one after the other, and early this year, doctors concluded that only a kidney and a liver transplant could save her. The estimated cost — ₹50 lakh — was way beyond the reach of Sneha’s poor parents. Her father KG Paul had been a blue-collar worker in the Gulf, but quit his job to take care of his daughter.

Crowd-funding, truly

That is when Sneha’s school, St Peter’s School at Kumbalangi, took the initiative and decided to start a ‘crowd-funding’ drive to save her.

Donations poured in and together with the Kumbalangi village panchayat functionaries, volunteers collected nearly ₹20 lakh on a single day.

People from all walks of life chipped in. While the owners of half a dozen buses in the area donated their entire day’s collections, autorickshaw drivers and many of the bus crew donated their day’s earnings. Schoolchildren, housewives, shopkeepers, and even film-stars contributed.

A Facebook page — ‘Smile4Sneha -- lend your hand to heal Baby Sneha Paul’ — was created for receiving online donations. This proved very effective as Keralites working around the world sent in money. Within two weeks, the fund-raising had to be closed as it had overshot the target.

In fact, the drive was so effective that the fund-raisers called a press conference to request people not to send any more.

On November 6, Sneha had her first transplant surgery. A slice of her mother Reema Paul’s liver was transplanted onto her. The 12-hour surgery was considered a success and a date was set for the kidney transplant.

But at pre-dawn on Saturday, Sneha’s heart gave up, but not before revealing Kumbalangi’s large heart.

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