My kidney transplant operation
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - November 8, 2016 - 12:00am

I was told that 2016, the Year of the Red Fire Monkey of Chinese astrology, was going to be my lucky year. Apparently, not health wise! A week before I was going to join the historic PAL direct flight from Mactan Cebu International Airport (MICA) to Los Angeles, California on March 15th, my 65-year-old body, which has never been hospitalized (with the exception when I was born in Emmanuel Maternity Clinic along Echavez St.) decided to cancel my trip. I was rushed to the Cebu Doctors' University Hospital (CDUH) because my eyes turned yellow, a sign that I had jaundice. It could have been political, but after a few days inside, I was given the go-signal to join the his-toric flight to Los Angeles.

Of course, I made a promise to have a thorough health check upon my return from that weeklong trip to LA. It was then that my doctor and Nephrologist Dr. Juliet Noel found out that my creatinine was getting to the higher levels. After a series of medications, it was apparent that my condition had remained and my crea kept rising uncomfortably. We sent the lab reports to my nephew in the US, Dr. Jose Albert Del Rosario Avila who is also a nephrologist and he was the first to ever mention that I needed a kidney transplant.

People ask me, if I was on dialysis already? No, I wasn't on that level yet, but I did not want my crea to creep up high enough that I would eventually end up tied to a dialysis machine every other day. In the Year 2012, my compadre, the late Jesus "Dodong" Tequillo, father of my son-in-law Atty. Jennoh Tequillo died of complications after being on dialysis treatment for three years and I saw him suffer.

So I decided that perhaps a kidney transplant was a better option and true enough, my surgeon, the eminent Dr. Alvin Roxas told me that if I was not yet on dialysis, he would give me priority for a kidney transplant. Somehow everything was starting to line up. Dr. Roxas apparently is the son of Boy Roxas of Roxas Construction, my barkada during our Pelota days. Even his assistant is the grand daughter of the late Dr. Genaro Hortelano whom I used to play golf with in our days at the Club Filipino, Inc.

So today, as the old saying goes, is the beginning of the rest of my life as I enter the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) for my kidney transplant surgery, a pre-emptive surgery that my surgeon Dr. Alvin Roxas (he trained under the famous Dr. Enrique Ona former head of the National Kidney Institute of the Philippines (NKI) in the sense that I have not yet been hooked up on a dialysis machine. This is also upon the recommendation of my nephrologist Dr. Juliet Noel whom I consider one of the best in the country.

You may ask, why a government hospital? First of all, during the stint of Dr. Ona as Department of Health   secretary, he made sure that the NKI would have state of the art "branches" for kidney surgery in Cebu and Davao. Thus, the surgical facilities in VSMMC are considered the best amongst the many hospitals in Cebu and I cannot thank Sec. Ona for his forward thinking and concern for those who do not live in Metro Manila. Secondly, PhilHealth is helping fund my surgery and it is a great and substantial help especially that major surgeries like this needs a lot of money.

If there is any lesson to learn from my medical experience, first and foremost, it is the realization that indeed, health is wealth! Whether you like it or not, a sick person needs medicine and medical or professional help all of which needs money. It is a great help that in this country, senior citizens do get a discount on our medical purchases. But it is not enough, especially for those who are retired or have no work. I'm one of the lucky few that took Kaiser Medical Insurance years ago and it has been a great help in my earlier hospitalization and the removal of my gall bladder last month by my cousin, Dr. Eduard "Don" Rosello, the foremost expert in Laparoscopic procedure here in Cebu.

Perhaps the most devastating result of my kidney transplant is the two month isolation that I have to endure after the surgery. I even had to give up my dog, which my sister Adela Kono readily embraced to have in her house. Best of all, our friends are there to commiserate with us through their prayers for our health. My group, the Sons of David, a branch of Bukas ng Loob (BLD), are my prayer warriors who will bombard the heavens with their community prayers, something we all need at this time.

Since my operation will be at the VSMMC, it is a good time to find out how things are being run in our government hospital. It is notably that our good friends, Rep. Raul del Mar and Rep. Gwen F. Garcia went out of their way to assure me that VSMMC will really take care of me. Mind you, I didn't ask them for their help, but when they learned about my operation, they went out to give their support. That's what friends are really for! Again thanks to all my prayer warriors, the medical team headed by Dr. Roxas and those assisting in my operation. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for me in my time of need. God bless you all.

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