‘Time is running out’: RI doctors gather medical supplies to ship to India


PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) ─ Two Rhode Island doctors are determined to do all they can to help their Indian counterparts, who are battling a resurgence of COVID-19 that has devastated the country.

Dr. Jinen Thakkar and Dr. Laura Forman, both of Kent Hospital, actively organize a cargo flight of medical supplies, which are in short supply in India.

“As a doctor and as a human being, it’s incredibly difficult to look at what’s happening in India right now and not do whatever I can to help,” Forman said.

At the height of the pandemic, Thakkar said Rhode Island hospitals were quickly able to muster the supplies they needed to treat patients and protect staff.

But unfortunately, this is not the case in India.

“Hospitals lack beds, medicine and oxygen to treat patients,” Thakkar said. “Patients are dying outside hospitals, waiting for a bed, and healthcare workers are putting their lives at risk by working without the necessary PPE. Family members are desperately trying to find oxygen cylinders and supplies for their sick loved ones.

Forman said once they learned about what was happening in India, she and Thakkar knew they had to act. That’s why they’re asking Rhode Islanders to donate money or send them any excess medical supplies they have.

“Having worked on the front lines in Rhode Island when we had the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the world, at least among countries that were able to test and report them, we were struck by the situation at which our colleagues and patients in India,” Forman said. “We wanted to do something to help and we donated a flight.”

When it comes to dispatching the donated supplies, Thakkar said, “Time is of the absolute essence.”

That’s why doctors hope their plane will be loaded with medical supplies and on its way to India within two weeks.

“Even if we all get vaccinated in the US, if COVID rages across India, there will be more variants and these will spread to the US,” she said. “We have to help if we want to end the pandemic.”

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