Duterte vows to help girl with biliary atresia
To allow more Filipinos to avail themselves of organ transplants, Duterte said he wants the surgery to be done at the NKTI instead of abroad.
STAR/ File

Duterte vows to help girl with biliary atresia

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has vowed to help in the operation of a two-year-old girl with biliary atresia at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City.

To allow more Filipinos to avail themselves of organ transplants, Duterte said he wants the surgery to be done at the NKTI instead of abroad.

On Wednesday, Duterte met with the parents of biliary atresia patient Sophie Aguilo and urged them to allow the liver transplant to be done locally.

Biliary atresia is a condition in infants in which the bile ducts outside and inside the liver are scarred and blocked.

Sophie’s parents want their child to undergo the operation in India, where the medical procedure would cost less.

However, Duterte told Ronald Naval and Kendy Aguilo, Sophie’s parents, that he wants the transplant to be done in the country, the first such procedure to be done in the Philippines.

He asked Sophie’s parents to trust the expertise of the doctors at the NKTI, noting the doctors here are equally capable of successfully doing such a procedure in the country at par with their counterparts overseas.

“Subukan natin dito. Ako naniniwala ako. Hindi ako nambabarat – may pera at tutulong ako (Try it here. I believe. I am not penny-pinching – there are funds and I will help),” the President told the parents, vowing to support Sophie’s financial needs.

The President recalled a similar case of biliary atresia in Cagayan de Oro City, wherein a soldier asked for help so his 11-month-old daughter could undergo an operation in India.

Duterte facilitated the family’s trip to India for the baby’s liver transplant. The baby died after the operation.

In a press statement, the Palace quoted Duterte and Sen. Christopher Go as saying the administration’s Malasakit Program will ensure the overall welfare of Sophie and other patients who will undergo transplants.

Go said improving the NKTI’s capacity will lessen the burden on the families of those who are in urgent need of a transplant, adding that he has personally seen parents begging so they can bring their children abroad for the operation.

Looking for solutions 

Because of the growing number of children needing liver transplants, Go said he met with concerned agencies as part of an initiative to look for short- and long-term solutions. 

One of the short-term solutions, according to Go, is to build a consortium among the Office of the President, Department of Health, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and The Medical City to pool government and private funds, which will be transferred to the TMC through PCMC.

Pedriatric liver transplants will be done through the partnership of PCMC and TMC until the time when NKTI can solely perform pediatric and adult living donor liver transplants. The estimated cost for every patient will be P3.6 million.

A long-term solution, on the other hand, is to send a team of 12 NKTI specialists to undergo training in Taiwan and purchase equipment for the hospital, which will be modernized to enable it to perform pediatric liver transplants, Go said.

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