Where saving hearts is a daily celebrationBy Jamie Marie Elona
MANILA, Philippines—Like what people say about celebrating Christmas, everyday should be Valentine’s Day.
Whether you’re broken hearted, in a relationship or about to start a new one, it is a good day for all, though two people whose hearts beat for each have a reason to celebrate.
On a more realistic point of view, it is still way better to have a healthy heart as one celebrates hearts’ day, everyday.
In a press conference on the eve of Valentine’s Day, Dr. Azad Moopen’s Foundation, a non-profit arm of DM Healthcare (the leading healthcare conglomerate in the Middle East and India) said 50 needy young patients in the Philippines who are suffering from congenital heart defects (CHD) are set to receive surgery grants through its “Save The Little Hearts” program.
“As a healthcare provider, we believe it is very important to reach out to people across geographies and extend our services to those who really need it. . . . As an employer of choice to thousands of Filipino staff at DM healthcare, we wanted to give back to the community that is integral to our growth, success and quality,” Dr. Azad Moopen, chairman of DM Healthcare said.
This initiative targets children with CHD that come from families that have limited means to afford necessary operations needed to ensure a patient’s survival. If left untreated, CHD can be fatal where newborns with the defect face an increased risk of mortality within their first year of life.
Dr. Moopen’s foundation said it will work with government hospitals in the country in selecting patients who are to be provided of a free pediatric cardiac surgery on the basis of their critical need for treatment.
It said minor surgeries that can be treated within the Philippines will be carried out under complete supervision and funding by Dr. Moopen’s Foundation, while patients that will be sent to India will be rendered comprehensive medical care at a hospital under the DM Healthcare network.
Joyce Socao-Alumno, DM Healthcare Foundation-Philippines representative said seven patients have already qualified as beneficiaries, while medical records of 30 others are currently being reviewed.
In the Philippines, Dr. Jonas del Rosario of St. Luke’s Medical Center-Fort Bonifacio Global City, said with the birth rate of 2.4 percent and 2 million growth per year, about 1,600 will have a congenital heart defect every month, or 55 per day, or two for every hour.
“The problem is with the infra that we have there are only certain hospitals which can really care for these kids,” Del Rosario said, noting that at the Philippine Heart Center, only about 300 of its 500 heart surgeries every year are charity cases, while at the Philippine General Hospital, there are only about 150 to 200 open heart surgeries for charity patients.
With these figures, not even 20 percent can be covered, he said.
“So what happens to these kids? They are usually left there waiting,” he said.
As of the moment, two patients have already undergone surgeries at the Philippine General Hospital.
The two were identified as Nathalie Alzaga, 4; and Danica Santos, 16—who were both diagnosed with “patent ductus arteriosus.”
“We needed P200,000 to pay for her heart surgery. That kind of money is not easy to come by. I even thought of applying for a job overseas so I could get a higher salary. But then if I did that, I would have to leave Karen and Nathalie behind. I really love Nathalie so much,” Nathalie’s father, Rexes, said.
Rexes said he event tried risky means of making money for her daughter’s operation, which includes joining motorcross events, but wasn’t still enough.
“If I don’t win a race, then I get nothing. Some people say that I’m a brave man for joining thoses races. But I tell you, when it comes to Nathalie’s condition, I don’t feel so brave. I get worried and scared about what could happen to her,” Rexes said.
Hope was only restored last February 1 after being chosen as a recipient of the free surgery from the Dr. Moopen’s Foundation.
It turned out that Nathalie’s mother, Karen, liked and wrote a message to the Facebook page of the Save the Little Heart’s last January 25, and eventually got a call several days later telling her bring in Nathalie’s medical records for reviewing.
The Dr. Moopen’s Foundation launched its Save the Little Hearts Facebook campaign last January 23. For every Like on the page (https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheLittleHearts), the foundation pledged to give P100 to fund free heart surgeries for young CHD patients. The page have garnered 7456 Likes as of posting.
“After Nathalie’s operation and after the doctor told us it was successful, I was nearly in tears. I wanted to jump with joy. It was really a combination of God’s help and the help of the Dr. Moopen’s Foundation that made this possible for our family. I really can’t express my gratitude enough,” Rexes said.
During the event earlier, the initiative was launched with the handing over of a Certificate of Donation presented by Dr. Azad Moopen to the Board of Trustees of DM Healthcare Philippines as a symbolic gesture of its commitment towards the activities on the ‘Save The Little Hearts’ program in the Philippines.
The amount of donation, estimated to cost more than P5 million (AED 451,508), is over and above the equivalent of 10,000 Likes on the Facebook campaign of the ‘Save The Little Hearts’ program.
For his part, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said “Your Save the Little Hearts Project is a crucial undertaking that will save lives of Filipino children with CHD and will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of the patients and their families.” (advt)