Samboy’s recovery amazes doctors

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It’s been nearly three months since PBA legend Samboy Lim suffered a cardiac arrest and was dead on arrival when wheeled into the emergency room of The Medical City. But despite deprived of oxygen for about 23 minutes, Lim was revived by doctors and is now on the road to recovery, baffling even the most skeptical medical researchers.

The latest development is Lim manages to lip-talk, telling his daughter Jamie “I love you” and even sings along by lip-speak as his voice is compromised by a trache in his throat. The trache allows breathing without the use of the nose or mouth through an incision in the windpipe. Lim is also able to lift his hand when prompted.

Lim, who turns 53 on April 1, was discharged from the hospital over a month ago and while out of coma, still has to regain full control of his senses. There are positive signals, however, and Lim’s former wife Darlene Berberabe is confident that with God’s help, a full recovery is around the corner. Lim receives 24/7 care in a two-bedroom condo unit near The Medical City. His bedroom has been transformed into a virtual hospital suite.

Doctors are amazed at Lim’s progress. “Doctors continue to be surprised,” said Berberabe who supervises Lim’s treatment. “I’ve mentioned to the doctors that they might consider to document Sam’s case in re-looking and reviewing what we know and don’t know about the brain. Sam’s recovery is also a testament to the power of collective prayers.”

Berberabe said a team of 19 doctors, led by main attending physician and cardiologist Dr. Luigi Segundo, has painstakingly cared for Lim since his arrival at The Medical City. She said bills are mounting and expressed appreciation for those who support Lim financially. Berberabe was recently contacted by Jersey Haven’s Andrew Tan who raised P15,000 from the sales of the Skywalker’s San Miguel Beer No. 9 uniform over a two-month period in the jerseyhaven.com.ph site as contribution for Lim’s treatment. The jersey is still available for sale at P1,500 each in the site. Lim’s hospital bills amounted to P2.8 Million.  

“Sam’s doing his best,” she added. “His physical therapist is training him for his neck and back muscles to support his back on his own so he doesn’t lean back for an hour. He can lift his hand also when instructed.”

Lim opened his eyes in the last week of December, triggering a fresh wave of hope from his family and friends. “He still can’t see us or can’t process what he sees,” said Berberabe. “The neuro doctor says vision and speech may take some time to gain back because those two are most vulnerable in his condition. Has he talked? Not yet because of a trache in his throat. But he can lip-talk with some basic words such as ‘Jamie (his daughter), I love you’ and can sing along. He joins in the chorus of songs by lips-speak as his voice hasn’t come back.”

Over a month after Lim was brought to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness from the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, his sister Maricor’s daughter Danielle wrote this moving email to Pope Francis, hoping to reach the Pontiff before visiting the Philippines:

“Your Holiness, Dear Pope Francis, I am 16 years old and for the last 40 days, I’ve been praying to God to heal my Uncle Samboy Lim who is in a coma. I did not want any Christmas gift except that my Uncle be healed because he is a good man and he honors God through his life. He is God-fearing and Filipinos love him for being humble, kind and loving. I even made a card, hung it on an angel figurine with the hope that the angel can fly it to my Uncle. But Christmas has come and gone and Uncle Samboy is still not awake.

“Dear Pope Francis, God does not seem to hear my prayers. I know you will be going to the Philippines. Can I please ask if you can bless my Uncle Samboy as he is still in a deep sleep. I believe that the hope Christmas gives should be year-round. This will be the best Christmas gift ever and I will ask nothing more. If God does not hear me now, maybe you will. I hope and pray that you will. Thank you so much, Your Holiness.”

The email to Pope Francis may or may not have reached the Vatican but somehow, Danielle’s prayers were answered by God. Lim is no longer in a coma. Danielle’s Christmas gift came a little late. Lim himself has shown Danielle that there is no greater gift than the gift of love, hope and faith in her heart.

The Lim family also sent a letter of thanks to the Letran community. Lim is a Letran graduate. “We, the Lim family, would like to express our gratitude to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran students, Administration and the entire alumni community for the overwhelming love and support extended to Samboy during this difficult time.

“May the good Lord bestow upon him the strength and grace to withstand this medical condition – his personal trial. Samboy has always been proud of his Alma Mater and has consistently embodied the ideals and teachings of this noble institution. May we please request the Letran community to continue praying for a miracle of healing so that Samboy may continue to do a lot more good deeds for Deus, Patria, Letran! Arriba Letran!”

The letter was sent by Lim’s mother Cora, sisters Maricor, Malou and Marites, brother Anthony (BonBon), Berberabe and daughter Jamie.

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