Sign up for free life-saving dialysis

>> Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ramon S. Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Despite lapses that we should have seen earlier,  the signature campaign towards a government policy making dialysis a medical procedure free of charge was launched through “Kapihan Sa Cordillera” last Tuesday morning.
The Baguio media were there to boost the campaign initiated in tandem with Regional Director Helen Res-Tibaldo for the growing number of families who have to bear the continuous emotional and financial burden of helping keep alive a member stricken by what doctors diagnose as “end-stage renal disease” or kidney failure.
Dialysis is expensive, averaging P10,000 a month for one undergoing the four-hour blood-cleansing procedure that doctors advise should be done four times a week for a life-time. Even for those submitting to twice-a-week treatment, the cost is staggering.
The figure does not include regular injections, life-time medications, check-ups and hospitalization, especially so that kidney disease also causes a host of other illnesses such as imbalance in blood composition and pressure, heart trouble and so on. Diabetes, which is a major trigger for kidney failure, also causes impaired vision and blindness.
Given the prohibitive costs and our culture, it’s difficult to even attempt at dreaming or thinking of possible or probable kidney transplant. In a country where even the educated ones hesitate to donate blood, - this amidst the assurances of medics that it’s healthy for normal people do so. - it would be blasphemy to give a relative the inkling that he or she might  consider being a donor.
I know of a widow whose husband’s kidneys, eyes and other organs were “harvested” when he died as it was his wish that these be donated and used by people  in need of them.
The couple learned of this beautiful practice when they migrated to the United States, leading him to also decide what has become a normal act there but an unthinkable decision here. Given the prohibitive costs of the procedure and the life-time medication to prevent rejection of the implant, it would be foolhardy to resort to transplant here.
We’ve heard of people who had undergone the procedure but went back to dialysis for failure to financially maintain their post-surgery medication.
Dialysis is  a free medical procedure in the United States, Canada and other well-developed countries where we can only dream of being in. The first time I was in California, just when my kidneys were about to fail, I thought deep, twice, thrice, and for the nth time staying there for good over their revelation that dialysis is a free  of charge as it is an emergency, life-saving, albeit- temporary treatment.
N’ya pay ngay naadal mo idiay? (What else did you learn there?),” friends at Luisa’s Café, the newsman’s hang-out along Session Rd. asked me when I came back after stepping on  snow with now  Baguio Midland Courier editor Harley Palangchao.
As Harley and I gained weight quite fast there, I recalled our visit taught us the difference between “eat all you can” and “eat all you have”. I realized you can eat all you can while you are there. Here, you eat all you have yet you cannot still have your fill. There, you can save to eventually be able to buy Cadillac. Here, you can not save anything towards having a Tamaraw FX.
Among those who hosted us  there were expatriate Cordillerans who wanted to foot the bill from day one. They wanted to know if we wouldn’t be back home soon, for them to go on vacation so they could bring us around. Some were nurses who told me later on I should have told them I would eventually need to have a tube called a “stent” in my heart to keep my blood circulating.
They wanted the operation there as it would cost a fortune here. When they learned about my re-piping, they asked me to report to Western Union to prevent complications over my seeing the over-all hospital bill.
That’s why we love reading former city prosecutor Benny Carantes. He can call a spade a spade, as he had been doing so, long before President Duterte came to the scene. Last week, boss Benny mentioned something about the prohibitive costs of being hospitalized in a language that, while it may hurt some people, speaks the truth.
I’m blessed because most if not all my doctors scrapped their fees, as if they owed me something in the first place. What triggers hollering is when you find in your hospital bill a P20 charge for “use of scissors” and P300 for wheeling-in fee, or a door away from the recovery room to the regular room.  
But where were we? We’re into that signature campaign to make dialysis free of charge, for the sake of patients who could not cope with the costs of staying alive. The campaign is in memory of those who had gone ahead,  they who decided to kick the bucket so that something is left behind for their families to live on. It’s in memory of Jane Lamlamag Garcia, a 34-year old mother who asked to be brought home to Mankayan, Benguet , saying she was tired and already wanted to rest . A miner’s wife, she began her life-time, twice-a-week hemodialysis treatment in  December, 2015.
Recently, her daughter, six-year old Princess Arcia, was diagnosed for leukemia or blood cancer. Recently her other daughter, three-yrear old Cathy Sy, was diagnosed for epilepsy. After Jane’s death, her husband Romeo brought her to Bauko, Mt. Province where she was buried. After that, Romeo submitted himself for confinement at the Notre Dame de Lourdes Hospital here in Baguio. From there, he went to the Baguio General Hospital where his daughter Princess was confined.
“Imbaga diay doctor nga madaddadael metten ti kidneyk, Stage 2 kano (The doctor told me my own kidney is also being destroyed, Stage 2),” he said while visiting her daughter.I didn’t how to respond, but had the luck of turning over to him P10,000 sent by expatriate Samaritan Julian Chees, the karateka with a heart, so Romeo could have a start in figuring out how to unravel the mess his orphaned family is in because of poverty.

Whatever, please wait for developments as newsmen who belong to the computer generation are coming up with a free-dialysis signature campaign online so that fellow Cordillerans and Filipinos can  sign to save lives.  (e-mail: for comments).


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