My kidney transplant operation
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2016 - 12:34am

As the old cliché goes, today is the beginning of the rest of my life. Hopefully today, I can go back home seven days after getting my first major operation, a kidney transplant at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC). Apparently, my episode started seven months ago when my creatinine levels reached 5.4 and my nephrologist Dr. Juliet Noel told me that something has to be done. I was later exhibiting edema and fluids were then limited to six glasses a day. But my nephew, Dr. Jose Albert Avila, who is a nephrologist in Philadelphia, immediately told me I needed a kidney transplant, which seemed too drastic at that time.

I had to take extra measures, such as reducing intake of several food items. My creatinine, however, kept going up. Then I learned that they do kidney transplantation at VSMMC. Apparently, this was the result of the efforts of then Secretary Enrique Ona, who used to head the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) at Quezon City. I hadn’t realized that they’ve been doing this for sometime already.

When he was NKTI chairman, Dr. Ona trained several surgeons to do kidney transplants in part for VSMMC in the Visayas, as well as in another facility in Davao City, thus relieving the burden experienced by NKTI in catering to the transplant needs of the country. As former Secretary of the Department of Health, he made the Z-Package from PhilHealth to be able to fund those in need. They also take care of cardiac surgeries in VSMMC, which I didn’t know then.  Incidentally, I just learned that the Office of the Ombudsman has dropped all cases against Ona in what I call as trumped-up charges against the good doctor in order to give way to somebody close to the previous administration. Let me just say it here that I’ve heard so much about Dr. Ona, that he is an honorable man and that he is not corrupt.

I had a long talk with Dr. Gerardo Aquino who told me that they are proud of what they have done here in VSMMC. When I first visited Dr. Alvin Roxas, a son of my Pelota buddy before, he told me he has been performing kidney transplants for some time now. When he found out that I hadn’t undergone dialysis yet, he told me that if he had 25 patients on dialysis, he would perform the surgery first on me.

Mind you, it is not easy to have a kidney transplant. I should know. My mentor and close friend, the late Maximo V. Soliven also underwent one. The first problem is to secure a donor. And if you can’t find one, you have to look for one. This is why many patients end up undergoing hemodialysis. The problem with this is that you’ll have to be hooked to a machine for several hours a day for some days in a week, like a cellphone hooked to a charger, where you cannot walk around until it is done. My compadre, the late Jesus “Dodong” Tequillo died four years ago after about three years of hemodialysis. That was the only time I went to visit him inside the dialysis center, telling myself I didn’t want to suffer the same fate. So when I visited Dr. Alvin Roxas, I opted for a preemptive transplant because he reassured me that if I hadn’t gone through dialysis, my recovery would be faster. So now, the final hurdle was to find a donor since my children, who offered their kidneys to me all could not since our blood types did not even match. I had to look around for a kind soul and finally found one.

So last November 8, Dr. Alvin Roxas’ team together with Dr. Noel, Dr. Alfon, Dr. Baclig, Dr. Butch Cabahug, and Dr. Matiga ensured the success of my transplant. So from a 5.2 creatinine upon admission, it is now down to 1.2. After the operation, I developed a bad case of diarrhea, and apparently I was losing four liters of water everyday and I became so thin down to skin and bones, like a survivor from Auschwitz. So we had to delay discharge for me to undergo rehydration and medication. But, all in all, the operation was an astounding success.  I congratulated VSMMC hospital administrator Dr. Gerardo Aquino, who visited me several times. He also doubles as hospital administrator in a Tacloban hospital. This is not to pull anyone’s leg, but I never had so much nursing care coming from a government facility.

Now, I need to thank my nurses from VSMMC, one of which is even six months pregnant: Cathy Elena Singco, Genaro Pañares, Wilfredo Mugas, Jovelita Cataraja, Kharen Magdadaro, Carolyn Maun, Jeffrey Layese, Jessa Mae Canino, Kim Antiga, and Chiza Pepito.

I would also like to thank my prayer warriors, my Bukas Loob sa Diyos (BLD) group, Sons of David group, The Community of St. John, my friends in the Opus Dei, and my friends from Task Force for Life Community (TFFL), that fought the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) and campaigned vigorously in the internet to help Donald Trump against the evil Clinton machinery that espoused the killing of the unborn inside their mothers’ wombs. Perhaps the best news of all is that I learned about Donald Trump’s victory, as I woke up from my operation. God is good.

*      *      *

Email: or

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with