Ma. Christine Fajardo, Novartis Healthcare Phiippines country corporate affairs head; Dr. Susan Pineda Mercado, special Envoy of the President for Global Health Initiatives; Dr. Joselito Chavez, deputy executive director for medical services; Dr. Romina Danguilan, organizing committee lead, Regalo Organ Donation Advocacy; Dr. Enrique Ona, president and Chairman, MCTJ and KFP; Ms Teresita Prima, Kidney Transplant Association of the Phils. president at the launch of Regalo’s documentary film contest
Are you willing to save a life by donating an organ?
OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2019 - 12:00am

Donating one of your kidneys is not a death sentence. You can still live a fruitful, meaningful life and save another person’s life.

Kidney disease does not only affect the patient, it is a burden carried by the entire family. Supporting a family member with renal disease — financially and emotionally — definitely changes one’s life.

“Every year, more than 25,000 new patients suffer from kidney failure because of diabetes or high-blood pressure,” shared. Dr. Romina Danguillan, organizing committee lead of the Renal Gift Allowing Life for Others (Regalo). “And the statistics increase by 10 to 15 percent.”

To date, 37,000 patients with renal failure are undergoing hemodialysis — which is a temporary relief  — compared to those who opted for a kidney transplant.

For patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a kidney transplant is often the only hope for survival.

“The number of patients with ESRD in the country is increasing. Unfortunately, the number of kidneys from living and deceased donors remains dismally low,” lamented Dr. Danguillan. “We need to do something about this.”

In a research conducted by the Health Technology Assessment Group of the Department of Health (DOH), it showed that kidney transplant gives the highest quality of life and benefits to patients compared to dialysis treatment.

However, kidney transplantation is only possible with a living or deceased kidney donor.

“Among the 25,000 new patients with kidney failure, only 500 patients get a kidney transplant,” added Dr. Danguillan.

That’s sad considering that the National Kidney and Transplant Institute has been successfully performing kidney transplantation since 1974. Add to that, PhilHealth’s expanded coverage in supporting patients with kidney failure has increased through the years.

“PhilHealth recognizes the importance of providing financial assistance to families. It covers each patient with end-stage renal disease P600,000 transplantation coverage,” noted Dr. Joselito Chavez, deputy executive director for medical services, National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI). “The huge expense carried by PhilHealth to support kidney patients highlights the need for the prevention of kidney failure.”

More than 1.2 million people around the world die of kidney disease every year. And most deaths occur in third-world countries like the Philippines.

Information is power

In celebration of National Kidney Month this June, Regalo, a multi-stakeholder alliance advocating for organ donation and kidney transplantation, stressed the need of spreading awareness about the importance of donating one’s organ.

“Organ donation, as a concept, is not still not easy to understand for most individuals,” former Health Secretary Enrique Ona, president and chairman of Maria Corazon Torres y Javier Foundation. “For some, blood donation is okay because it can be replenished right away. But donating a piece of yourself while you’re still alive is something you have to come to terms with.”

And so to help you better decide, Dr. Ona advised: “Just think of how many lives you could save, when you agree to become an organ donor — whether as a living or deceased donor.”

From 2009 to 2018, those who had kidney transplant got their kidneys from living donors. The number of kidneys donated by deceased donors continues to dwindle.

“And so we encourage everyone to consider being an organ donor,” said Dr. Danguillan.

It is also important to inform your family members that you’re willing to donate your organs — when your time comes — while you’re still healthy.

“Only God knows when we’ll go. And if that moment comes, make it easier for your loved ones to decide whether to donate your organs or not,” advised Dr. Susan Pineda-Mercado, special envoy of the President for Global Health Initiatives.

Organ donation docu-film contest

And as part of sustaining awareness about organ donation, Regalo launched a documentary film contest to encourage more Filipinos to give the gift of life by becoming organ donors.

With the theme “Make It Your Mission, Share Your Decision,” the docufilm contest was launched last Friday at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

“The contest is part of our continuing advocacy to promote awareness on the nobility and life-saving benefits of organ donation,” explained Dr. Danguillan.

The launch was also attended by film producer and director Ben “M7” Yalung, founder of the Asia Pacific Film Institute.

“Character-driven documentaries focus on the stories of real people and put a human face on issues that might otherwise seem distant and relatable — like organ donation,” Yalung explained. “Documentaries are powerful tools that can educate and motivate people to do good.”

Yalung added that he is elated to be tapped to be part of this project.

“This is something that all people must know. Donating one of your kidneys is not a death sentence. You can still live a fruitful, meaningful life,” he enthused. “The Asia-Pacific Film Institute is humbled to be part of the program. We could tap the services of our people — scriptwriters and directors — pro bono. We could also lend some of our equipment to your staff or aspirants.”

The contest challenges participants to create a short documentary on how organ donation and kidney transplantation benefit many Filipinos.

It is open to filmmakers, videographers, students and film enthusiasts. Registration is free. Deadline for submission of entries is on Oct. 4.

*   *   *

For the complete contest rules, visit the Regalo FB page at https://www.facebook.com/RegaloOrganDonationAdvocacy.

GLOBAL HEALTH INITIATIVES NOVARTIS HEALTHCARE PHIIPPINES ORGAN DONATION
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