“Grief and sorrow can turn into happiness”
Sir Farhan Ahmad narrates his inspirational story of been a father of a daughter with congenital heart defect to the source of life and treatment for other thousands of children born with this disease
My daughter left us when she was three years old but she is still alive in our hearts. Her memories have become my strength and biggest motivation to start Pakistan Children Heart Foundation further and do whatever I can, God be willing, to prevent another little flower from withering away for mere inadequacy of facilities. We have financially supported 300+ Children Heart surgeries. Our ultimate goal is to build a free Children Heart Hospital and center of excellence. My daughter was my inspiration. She came into our lives in Nov 2010. When she was 3 month old, I received a call from my wife, her voice trembling and frantic, and told me our daughter has stopped breathing. We rushed our daughter to the hospital and after five agonizing days and lengthy diagnostic procedures; we discovered she is suffering from severe Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). We did everything we could and she was operated in a private hospital where they formed her first BT shunt. It was during her illness that we learned that due to acute shortage of specialized staff and resources, the future of any child born with CHD is very glum in Pakistan. In Pakistan around 40000 children are born with CHD and require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime. We have only 8 qualified surgeons, less than 25 peads cardiologists. Our capacity is maximum of 3000 surgeries including public and private hospitals. However, alone in one of the public hospital in Lahore, the waiting list of kids has crossed 8,000 in number
SK: How would you describe yourself?
FA: A father of a CHD kid, who couldn’t do much to save her. Professionally, I’m CTO with Maison Consulting & Solution; we represent Microsoft Dynamics ERP & CRM Solutions in Pakistan and Middle East.
SK: How long you have been in this cause?
FA: Since 2012.
SK: What has been an innovating experience?
FA: We went through lot of challenge but finally were able to register ourselves as Section 42 Not for Profit Company. We use technology to help us coordinate with donors and general public. Our website and portal has helped us reach all over the world.
SK: Can you share work of Pakistan Children Hearts Foundation?
Approximately 40,000 babies are born with Congenital Heart Defects (includes conditions such as “holes in the heart”), 25% needs immediate surgery in the first year of life. Less than 25 Pediatric Cardiologist, 8 surgeons and 5 centers are present where such surgeries can be performed. Only in Children Hospital the queue of patients waiting for surgery has crossed 8000.
Build a center of excellence which should serve as a dedicated Children Heart Hospital and should be able to provide trained Surgeons, Cardiologist, ICU Doctors, Per fusionists, Scrub nurses and technicians to serve in other parts of the country.
Who we are:
A personal experience of a father who shared the idea with cardiologists and surgeons and gathered 11 directors, 6 from medical side and 5 from business side. Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation is a SECP registered section 42 company. PCP certified and Tax Exempted by FBR. Having KPMG as our auditors, we believe in transparent systems and have started ISO Certification. We do not uses public funding to pay for our institution expenses. We collect and spent Zakat as per Shariah principles.
What we have achieved:
We have been able to fund surgeries of 300+ deserving children’s. Total amount spent on surgeries is Rs. 9.1 Million. Surgeries have been done at AKUH, AFIC, Ittifaq Hospital, and RIC & Children Hospital Lahore.
SK: Give an example of a difficult problem or challenge your foundation has faced.
FA: Our biggest challenge is to get donations from Saudi Arabia and other gulf states. We do not accept cash donation hence, we need to have a local subsidiary which is very cumbersome process.
SK: How do you get funding?
FA: We share our project details with friends circle and they become our brand ambassadors. All our donations are deposited in the bank. We keep track of Zakat separate and donation separate, we spend zakat according to Shariah principles.
SK: How do you organize the funding?
FA: We have internal systems, manual and also online, all donations are reconciled with the bank, and any spending is done though Cheques. No director can draw any direct or indirect remuneration. KPMG is our auditor and we use strict internal audit controls. Any Cheque is signed by two signatures and person who approves expense can’t sign the Cheque.
SK: What about the cost of a surgery?
FA: Each surgery cost around USD 4000 to 4500
SK: How much will it cost to set up a new hospital today?
FA: 12 Million USD as per feasibility study by www.ey.com
SK: Can you tell us about your project of constructing a free Children Heart Hospital?
FA: This will be a 100 bed hospital; total time to construct and make it operational is around 3 years. We will have state of the art facilities like robotic surgeries facility in future. This institution will serve as a center of excellence to provide trained doctors, surgeons, paramedic staff and technicians to other major institutions of country.
SK: What is the size of Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation, and number of staff members?
FA: We have 6 team members. Majority of them works volunteer. However, we have pool of freelancer’s who support our project remotely.
SK: What next, any expansion plans?
FA: 100 Beds hospital is first step, this kind of hospitals to be built in all major cities of Pakistan.
SK: What essentials you need to provide better treatment to patients?
FA: In addition to medical facilities, we would like to train our staff on how to handle patients with ultimate care.
SK: What is the biggest motivation in your life?
FA: To help save every single child born with CHD
SK: Of which accomplishment you are most proud of?
FA: 300+ Children Heart surgeries for deserving patients
SK: Tell us about your sponsors in this cause.
FA: Close circle of friends and their businesses.
SK: Any help do you need from government to support you in your cause?
FA: Yes, 5 Acre land
SK: Which goals are yet to be achieved in this cause?
FA: Bring medical missions from Saudi Arabia, USA and UK to training local hospitals.
SK: What is the patient turnout observed at Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation?
FA: 7 to 10 new patients usually come for evaluation on daily basis.
SK: Any remarkable experience you would like to share with us?
FA: We have experience lot of miracles in this journey. People call us from all over the world and ask us to utilize their money in children heart surgeries.
SK: Any request for people:
Pray for our cause and do spend as much time as they can as volunteers with us.
SK: Any message for youth:
FA: Nothing is impossible, believe in ALLAH and yourself. Prayers do wonders.
SK: Words for revolution flame:
FA: You guys are doing a great job, it’s not easy to unleash hidden patients of youth, however, keep doing it.
You can follow his work on Facebook Page:
Join PCHF in their efforts: www.chhri.org.pk
Thank you so much Mr Farhan Ahmad. We wish you more success in this noble cause.
Interviewed by: Sara Khan (Executive Social Media)