“In 1992, when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with kidney disease, we decided to move back to India from England. She had to go through CAPD (continual ambulatory peritoneal dialysis). We got her admitted in a hospital here in Chennai, which is where we met Dr. Georgi Abraham. Dr. Abraham is a CAPD specialist who explained the procedure and taught us how to perform it on my mother-in-law. She was also affected by retinopathy which affected her sight,” says Latha. She used to travel four times a week with her mother-in-law to the hospital and witnessed the pain and suffering of the people suffering from kidney disease or renal failure. “Dr. Georgi was always keen on helping people. He wanted to start a trust and shared his idea with me. His vision and mission became our vision and mission,” shares Ms. Latha, the Managing Trustee of TANKER Foundation.
Latha comes from a family which believed in supporting social causes for the under privileged. After her marriage, she also had her mother-in-law’s support. “It was not a duty but love and support of all these people which made me responsible for fellow beings I guess,” says Latha. She earned her degree in Public Relations from Stella Maris College, Chennai and was an active volunteer in social activities held at college. “There are different people who gave me inspiration to do social work,” adds Latha. After her wedding, she moved to England and worked there for a few years. Juggling between job, family and TANKER, Latha works hard to meet the challenges of her many roles.
In the early days, the government did not offer money for dialysis. “We thought of giving financial support and spread awareness on the disease”. They begun doing so in 1992, but the Trust (Tamil Nadu Kidney Research Foundation or TANKER Foundation) was formally registered in 1993 with the mission to detect, prevent and raise awareness on kidney ailments and to provide quality affordable treatment to underprivileged people. “We took a year to get like-minded people on board and to do some research and firm up logistics,” adds Latha.
They raised funds with the help of family and friends, who Latha says, are the backbone of the organization. Friends also pitched in to design their logo. They also involved people who had kidney ailments and their relatives and friends. “People with the disease can relate better. People who have been affected physically and psychologically have been roped in and given responsibilities in the organisation.”
Initially the subsidized dialysis units were held at major hospitals. A couple of years down the line, Dr. Abraham’s father-in-law came forward and offered his premises to carry out the procedures, which is when TANKER’s operations were set up independently.
The first project was Hemodialysis after which they expanded to awareness campaigns, merged with International Kidney Foundations and gradually started to grow. TANKER has now become another name for Kidney Care and is recognized internationally.