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Local doctor needs your help to aid India's COVID crisis

Dr. Kalyan Veerina has practiced in Lafayette and Opelousas for 20+ years.
Posted at 3:00 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 18:44:09-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — Although the United States is getting back to a somewhat normal way of life, that is not the case across the world in India.

Dr. Kalyan Vereena has been a doctor in Lafayette and Opelousas for more than 20 years.

He’s originally from India – a country still seeing the devastating effects of COVID-19.

“What we experienced in New York City, what we experienced in Italy or California at the very beginning, it hit them like a tsunami,” said Dr. Vereena. “Now, they’re slowly reeling, they’re taking some measures, but in the meantime, simply having oxygen... Lack of oxygen is what’s killing patients a lot of times.”

One solution to that lack of oxygen is oxygen concentrators. He says this equipment is less invasive than a ventilator, but the use of this machine can mean the difference between life or death.

“All they need is simple high flow of oxygen, that itself in combination with basic drugs to support them in the early stages would be game-changing and life-saving for them,” he added.

He’s hoping to send oxygen concentrators to his home country, so they set up a GoFundMe page. It takes 750 dollars to get a concentrator, one CPAP mask, and 100 n95 surgical masks.

It would all go to a hospital in the south of India, which is falling short on supplies due to its overwhelming patient population. He says this hospital, Guntur Medical College, is taking care of more than 1,000 patients a day.

“At the peak of the pandemic, we probably had 500 patients at the most in the hospitals in all Acadiana. So one hospital is caring for 1,500 patients,” he said.

Plus, the staff at this hospital is suffering too.

“Nearly 20 percent of the junior medical staff are infected,” said Dr. Vereena. “They’re fighting, risking their lives every day. So, it’s absolutely important for us to support as a community.”

Ravi Daggula, who’s helping the doctor achieve this, says the local Indian community has lifted Acadiana, and now they’re the ones that need the extra help.

There’s a lot of Indian professors, like Doc, there’s several physicians in town,” said Daggula. “Many students, hoteliers and business people that contributed to the success of Acadiana in their own way and I think now, their country or our country is in dire need of help.”

Dr. Vereena says vaccination efforts in India were great at first, but then the country started giving vaccines away to other countries.

“Out in India they had their own vaccination, but last year the viral pandemic was not as severe so people dropped their guard significantly, they were not taking adequate precautions,” he said.

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