Death in the family
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2020 - 12:00am

Death is all around us at this time of pandemic. There isn’t a day when I do not see reports of people dying on my Facebook feed, and not only because of the virus.

I also belong to the generation that’s supposed to be in the pre-departure lounge. I hear of classmates passing away during my Zoom sessions with high school buddies.

With so many people dying, one learns to block it off one’s mind. Then it hits you. There is a death in the family. Even if you knew that death was just a matter of time, it still hits you with an emptiness that’s difficult to ignore.

When I heard the news that my brother-in-law, the prominent pediatrician Dr Arturo C. Ludan died last Thursday afternoon, I took it calmly. It was expected. He had been in the ICU for over a week for a variety of diseases related to diabetes. I even felt a sense of relief that his suffering, with all the life-saving instruments attached to his body, is over.

I woke up last Friday morning and it hit me. My normally dry eyes started filling up with tears at the thought of the finality of it all.

Arthur was the big brother I didn’t have. I knew him when I was in knee pants, at 10 years old, as he had courted one of my older sisters. He had to help me with my school work before I allowed him and my sister to have time together.

Family was important to him. I remember him going out of his way to our house one evening because I had a bad case of food poisoning from an out of town trip. He brought a bottle of intravenous fluid because I refused to go to the hospital and I was in danger of dehydrating.

Most of all, he took care of all our children as they grew up. Art was a respected pediatrician and I often hear his patients talk highly of him.

Art loved what he was doing. He would take calls from worried mothers in the middle of our family gatherings and patiently reassure them their child would be okay.

Art could have remained in New York where he trained, but was determined to come home because he wanted to serve his fellow Filipinos. He had a big heart for the less privileged.

Art conducted free clinics for the children of informal settlers in his neighborhood. He gave out scholarships through Pediapharma, the drug company he established. He has 70 scholars as of today with seven graduated from college.

He tried public service at one point as director of what was then known as Lungsod ng Kabataan, a public children’s hospital. He was also a TOYM awardee. He trained several generations of doctors as a UP professor and as a practicing physician.

Reactions to my Facebook post revealed how much he had touched the lives of many. Here is one from Grace Rallos Bakunawa:

“Dr Art Ludan is the father of Filipino pediatrics. He was not only a great doctor, a very compassionate person for his patients and the parents, very humble, a great inventor/ formulator of medicines (Pedialyte was his formula), a great pharmaceutical CEO who was focused on delivering affordable meds to people, a highly professional medical practitioner, and a great family man. A God centered human being.

“He’s a true human scientist in medicine.

“All my four kids were his pedia patients from cradle to 18 years of age. I researched before I chose him as pedia. When I watched him on TV in “Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko” I knew he was great as he was.

“Peace of mind was having Dr Art Ludan as my pedia in all those years, and his daughter pedia was with him too later. Great team. God bless you Dr Ludan. You are a great loss to Philippine pediatrics. But you have left an indelible priceless legacy in millions of Filipinos.”

Margarita Locsin Chan: “Oh no!!! Boo!!! Dr Ludan saved my life. He is MY savior and I would literally be nothing and non-existent without him. He was the man who saved this six-month preemie with the weight of one Anchor butter, and with webs for hands and feet, and unable to eat.

“Without Dr. Ludan, I would not be here to post this today. So today I thank him for giving this little grouchy and grumpy, fatita Wednesday Addams, who used to waddle into his office with her characteristic ‘simangot’ (think poutiest of pouts), and who he called obese (how I learned the word and started my never-ending diet journey) when she was 10 years old, just over four feet tall, and already 140 lbs., a chance to BE. I am forever in his debt.”

Writer Paulyn Sicam: “I am grateful to Dr. Ludan for taking care of my asthmatic daughter. Healer, rest in God’s peace.”

Dr Maui Bondoc-Hermosa: “All medical students had to know the “Ludan method” of computing fluids by heart.”

Tony La Vina: “Dr Ludan was the pediatrician of our three sons from 1987-1999 – from birth until we left for US! He was the best in the world even in comparison to our doctors in Washington DC!”

There are other recollections: “A reminder of a wonderful doctor and a life well-lived. He was our family’s hero. He saved Mama’s first grandchild.”

“He was the most gentle pedia. And he always smelled nice. He saved me from a number of odd illnesses before I turned 12. Will always be grateful!”

Diabetes is genetic. Arthur’s father died in his early 60s. But through exercise and diet, Art managed to last 20 years more.

I guess he completed the mission our Lord gave him in this world. I am sure he was welcomed by Our Lord in Heaven, where he is finally free from two years of deteriorating health.

We will miss him, but also happy he is getting eternal rest in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Till we meet again, Art!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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