Parag Patel: Saving Lives in Kenya

Cardiologist Parag Patel started small when he began helping out in his native country, Kenya.

He brought over stethoscopes, used medical books and children’s clothing during his medical school residency. But as his career at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital flourished, so did his drive to help the poorest in the country’s slums.

Soon Patel was importing used medical equipment and treating patients during his visits. In 2005, Patel launched the Foundation For International Cardiac and Children’s Services (FICCS), so others could support the work in Kenya. The first donation came from one of his Lutheran General patients, former Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens.

“Now I go to Kenya twice a year,” Patel explains over an excellent Indian lunch in his Wilmette home. He serves passion for his philanthropic work with every course. “My wife, Rupa, who is also a doctor, and our teenage son and daughter come on the summer trips. They love it too.”

This year FICCS provided education, hygiene and health support for more than 3,000 women and children living in the worst slums, in addition to Patel’s ongoing medical support.

“Also, FICCS has awarded 20 boarding school, college and medical school scholarships,” Patel says proudly.

He relishes using his personal connections and creativity to accomplish what larger bureaucracies can’t. “Our goal is to make it more personal than United Way,” he says with a smile.

FICCS aspires to be “transformational for the greatest number of people,” Patel explains. This led to helping the neediest women and children in Kenyan slums. Photos accompany his description of the multiple programs FICCS now supports.

Because he now sees need closer to home too, Patel and FICCS have recently begun to partner with a free clinic on Chicago’s North Side.

FICCS is holding its second annual fundraiser on Friday, October 28. Patel’s mission and energy should inspire a great evening for all. More importantly, the proceeds will provide hope and better lives for thousands of children and women.