Doctor, family trust give what they can for India’s poor

FREE CLINIC — Dr. Sathish Magge measured a woman’s blood pressure during his most recent medical mission trip in Doddamagge, India, in February. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — For Dr. Sathish Magge, the desire to help those least fortunate in the world runs in his family’s blood.

Magge, who immigrated to the U.S. a year after completing medical school, has been a cardiologist practicing in Steubenville for the last 25 years and currently works for Trinity Health System.

For about a decade, Magge has been returning to his home village of Doddamagge, India, for medical mission trips that benefit the poor and needy. During Magge’s most recent trip in February, he provided free health care for about 140 indigent individuals, performing lab tests and examinations, as well as covering the cost of their’ medications for three months, if needed.

The trip was funded by L/K and S/S Trust, a charitable trust founded by Magge’s family with the goal of helping the least fortunate in India and beyond. Created in 2010 in memory of Magge’s late father, the trust itself is funded by the family, of which every member — young and old — pays into the pot “whatever they can,” Magge said.

Since being founded, the trust has been changing the lives of those in need for the better and producing “positive results,” Magge said.

“It’s amazing what you can do. … The small thing you give goes so far.”

Magge recalled that his father, Lakshmi Narayan Magge, was born “extremely poor” but saw improvement after marrying into a more affluent family. When the family’s patriarch died, Lakshmi Magge became the head of the family and took good care of the other members and supported their education, never asking for anything in return.

A social worker, Lakshmi Magge “dedicated his life” and capital to helping the poor in Doddamagge and redeeming the village itself, Magge said. With villagers’ help, Lakshmi Magge financially supported building roads, a hospital even a high school, which would later become a junior college and be named after him posthumously, though in life he never wanted to take credit.

Years later, in 1982, Magge had just completed medical school but needed to wait one year before immigrating to the U.S. on a visa for specialized training. He was encouraged by his father to spend that year serving the underprivileged.

During that time, Magge practiced for free out of a small room abutting a tent, and his father financed it all. For years afterward, when Magge would visit, those individuals would have check-ups with him and receive cardiology advice.

Lakshmi Magge died in 2007 with a fond reputation among Doddamagge’s villagers, but his family wanted his legacy to continue. It was Dr. Magge’s uncle, Natesh Magge, who founded the charitable trust three years later with the family’s support and management help from Dr. Magge’s father-in-law, P.M. Subbaraya.

Beginning with immediate family members, the trust has since reached extended family, transcending generations and increasing the scope of its aid capabilities.

Once a year, each family member donates what funds they’re able to into the trust. Magge’s brother Subu Magge uses his contacts in India to find poor people or projects in need of financial help.

Composed of family members and other individuals in India, the trust’s board of trustees coordinates where funding will go. Magge said money is kept in Indian currency and the charitable giving is never motivated by taxes.

Funds go solely toward helping those who are very poor, are old or have no one to take care of them, Magge said. Financial aid has gone toward individuals’ education fees, school equipment or medical operations, as well as toward disaster and accident relief, the operation of hostels and old ages homes and the care of widowed individuals.

One example is a young man who needed a kidney transplant. Magge said the trust sponsored his surgery and now the individual is “doing wonderful.”

Magge’s late mother and grandparents had their names added to the trust’s name, which is made up of their initials.

Now, the trust is going strong and expanding, Magge said. Partnerships are being created with non-governmental organizations to bring aid abroad in struggling places. Efforts will hopefully, at some point, reach into other parts of the Middle East and Africa, he said.

Even amid expansions, the trust won’t forget Doddamagge, where Magge said marked improvements have been made in turning the poverty-stricken village around. The Magge name has become well respected in the area for what the family has done, Dr. Magge added.

The family’s younger generations have taken up the cause.

“They’re all trained to help, and that’s good to see,” Magge said. “The younger generations want to help the needy.”

However, Magge wanted to do something more. Thus, for the last 10 years, he began returning for yearly mission trips, sponsored by the trust, to his village to provide free health care services like he’d done in 1982.

Magge plans the trips at the same time as a popular festival at the village’s temple, which brings in more individuals from surrounding cities. A tent is placed in front of the house-clinic, where Magge sees patients for about a week, with occasional help from local people, pharmacists and doctors.

Individuals receive three months of free medications through a partnered local pharmacy, with the bill covered by the trust, Magge said. Sometimes, the trust will sponsor a major surgery, such as a heart bypass or organ transplant. For individuals with longterm diseases, Magge will refer them to local doctors and specialists for follow-up care.

Only missing two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, the free clinic effort has been “very well received” by individuals, Magge said, noting that Trinity Health System has been supportive of his efforts, with other system doctors doing similar work.

“I feel that I am doing something good for the people,” Magge said. “God has given us everything. … Whatever little we can do makes us feel good, and I’m sure my dad is proud of what I am doing.”

Although the trust’s work may just be a droplet in an ocean, a little bit of help can go a long way and have great effects, Magge said, adding that the family wants to do more and more.

“You see the satisfaction on these people,” Dr. Magge said. “When I leave, so many people come and show their gratitude. It’s amazing to see how happy they are for the smallest thing that we do for these people who have nothing.”


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