Finding Hope in Manila

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Last June, my mother and aunt had to go to Manila to carry on with their workup in National Kidney Institute. While I was uncertain about their logistics and daily itinerary, I also felt excited as that would be their first time to visit me and live with me in Manila.

Sharing below some of our unforgettable experiences:

  • They arrived in NAIA at around 11pm on June 3. Too bad my cellphone was low in battery and I cannot contact them. I sought assistance with the information counter to look for them. The lady officer was kind enough to offer her personal phone not for a call but for SIM-swap.
  • Prior to their stay, I didn’t have much home appliances as I didn’t feel the need to have them for myself.  To satisfy their needs and sanity, I had to fill my place with an electric stove, air-conditioner and a TV.
  • After extensively preparing for our logistics and finances, my immune system fell weak and got fever with cough. That time, what was supposed to be the patient became the caregiver at home.
  • Their day-to-day schedule: M-W-Sat: Dialysis. T-Th-F:  NKI Workup. Auntie Nene was very kind to be my mother’s personal nurse. They commute while going to these places, they already know how to get there via jeep or bus.
  • Now imagine the scene when they took a cab and the driver didn’t know the way to Paragon Building where Asia Renal Care is, mom’s dialysis center along EDSA. What a sure long ride it was!
  • They didn’t know that yellow cabs are airport taxi with higher meter rates. They only realized it when they got in one of them and saw that the fare is already more than a hundred bucks even if they were still in Makati! They certainly took another cab when they reached EDSA.
  • We couldn’t ask Auntie Nene to go down alone and run some errands. She’s afraid of elevators.
  • One day, Auntie Nene saw a patient in the dialysis room whose face was already dark and her jaws out of form. For a time, she became traumatized and I had to be her back-up to accompany my mom during dialysis.
  • I ate free home-cooked food for a month!
  • The extra sofa bed became my best friend every night. Mom and aunt had to sleep on my original bed.

Their stay in Manila was certainly not easy for me but looking back, I am thankful most especially to Auntie Nene. Of the 7 siblings of my mother, she was the one who said yes and her selflessness gave us the reason to work on the transplant more.


Why Can’t I Donate?


It is the same question I ask my mother.

No matter how many transplant orientations are conducted for her to understand that the whole procedure is safe and sustainable, she still believes that it is not right for the breadwinner to be the kidney donor. She is saying that for me to give up my kidney and at the same time work hard to make ends meet, it is simply unacceptable.

Then why not my younger brother?

All the more. She strongly feels against donation from her two sons, especially from my younger brother who has not yet experienced being confined in the hospital. “My body will just reject your kidneys in the same way that my conscience could not accept the circumstance,” she says.

Call it a mother’s love? I am not sure. But if it is, then her love for us becomes so selfless it could possibly destroy her. I will give her a chance to pursue other options like looking for potential donors from our relatives and friends as a way to respect her decision.

But if December comes and yet no donor is confirmed, no one can stop me from volunteering myself. She should also respect my decision.

9 Tips to Take Care of Your Kidneys


As you read through the entries I post in this blog, you may be wondering how to prevent kidney disease. I searched some tips online and found below article very true. Reading through the tips, I can say that my mother is guilty of Tips # 2, 4, 5, 8, 9. I think the same thing goes to most Filipinos.

Kidney problems also run in the family. Hence, I should take more caution.


Five people out of every 100 develop a kidney stone sometime in their life. The odds are even higher for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The health of our kidneys is vitally important to the overall condition of our health as well as the longevity of our lives.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on either side of the lower back, just below the rib cage. Their function in the body is to remove waste products from the blood and regulate the amount of fluid in the body.

When your kidneys become overloaded with toxins, diseases of the kidneys and bladder can happen as you are unable to discharge the waste and urine from your body. People most at risk of developing CKD are those with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney disease. Men usually have a higher risk for developing chronic kidney disease than women. Here are the signs and symptoms of an ailing kidney problem.

  • Need to urinate more frequently or problem controlling urination.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination.
  • Edema ( a.k.a water holding) in the lungs, legs, abdomen, etc.
  • Swelling around the face, eyes, feet and ankles.
  • Blood in the urine.


The Burden of Kidney Disease in the Philippines


Kidney disease is a very expensive illness. Some even coin it as a rich man’s disease given the costly procedures kidney patients go through. Below article takes a closer look of this problem in the Philippines. Sad to say, we are part of this story.

Analysis by Romina Angangco Danguilan

The cost of treatment is not limited to the cost of dialysis. Rather, the cost is multiplied a hundredfold, and becomes the burden of an entire family.

Each year an estimated 120 Filipinos per million population (PMP) develop kidney failure. This means that about 10,000 Filipinos need to replace their kidney function each year.

Sadly, in 2007 only 7,267 patients started dialysis or received a kidney transplant directly. Only 73% received treatment because they were able to get to a hospital providing dialysis or could afford the therapy. The acceptance rate of treatment for kidney failure in the Philippines is only 86 PMP, compared to 100 PMP in South Korea, and 300 PMP in the United States (accessed from the International Federation of Renal Registries in 2000 Web site). A quarter of Filipino patients probably just died without receiving any treatment last year.

The leading cause of kidney failure in the Philippines is diabetes (41%), according to the Philippine Renal Disease Registry Annual Report in 2008, followed by an inflammation of the kidneys (24%) and high blood pressure (22%). Patients were predominantly male (57%) with a mean age of 53 years.

Thus, diabetic males in the most productive years of their lives comprise the population who received treatment for kidney failure in 2007. They require replacement of their kidney function to live. Without dialysis or kidney transplantation, patients with kidney failure die.


If You Have Dreams, Get a Transplant


I am sharing below an article that explains why transplant is preferred over perpetual dialysis. The moment my mother was diagnosed with ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease), I looked for related articles and the possible solutions to this problem. Since then, kidney transplant has become my goal for my mother!,_get_a_transplant

by Irene Sino Cruz, Visayas Bureau

“If you have dreams you want to fulfill, then get a transplant. But if you don’t, don’t bother.”

This was the advice that organ transplant surgeon Dr. Alvin Roxas gave to 28-year-old Lemuel Abella, who has a chronic kidney ailment.

Abella, a jobless seaman from San Fernando town in Cebu, had been on dialysis for about a year.

But his father, Mario, and the rest of the family decided Lemuel should have a kidney transplant rather than undergo constant dialysis — a lifelong treatment. Mario explained the family preferred that Lemuel have a normal life rather than be held hostage to his debilitating ailment. After Mario talked to his youngest son Noel, 22, the latter agreed to donate one of his kidneys to his brother, who got married in August last year.

When the operation started early Saturday, Mario was teary-eyed as he watched the doctors operate on both sons.


Why God Gave Us Two Kidneys

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On November 2009, I received a call from my dad in the middle of a busy work day. I immediately answered the phone as I knew it was something important; he rarely makes a call. After hearing what he had to say, I was dismayed and found myself asking, “Then who could be the donor?”

My mother has an End-Stage Renal Disease or what is most commonly known as kidney failure. Until now, we are looking for a kidney donor that could help save her life.

Three years ago, she was diagnosed to have an acute bilateral hydronephrosis – a renal disease where kidney stones block the passage way for water and body wastes. After two major surgeries, the stones were removed and life became partially normal again for her.

Last year, the same symptoms happened again. The pain was excruciating that she could not stand or walk, her ureter is shrinking and water could not possibly flow out. After an endoscopy procedure, the problem gradually disappeared but a catheter had to stay inside her for 3 months.

Late this year, her laboratory tests showed that her creatinine level is already over 1000. It only means one thing – her kidneys already failed. The doctor called for an immediate dialysis. It has been only 2 months since then but she already went to 16 dialysis sessions.

Dialysis is not really a remedy but a temporary workaround for kidney failure. The long-term cure is a kidney transplant. But in order for this to happen, we need a million pesos and a kidney donor. We already applied for a transplant subsidy from a non-profitable organization and if God permits, she will be doing the transplant early next year. As for the donor, my father volunteered himself.

During the call, my dad told me, “I cannot move to the next level of test. I am not a good kidney-match to your mother as my kidneys are also slightly damaged. This is what the doctors said.”

Then who could be the match? Who could donate a kidney for my ill mother?

Until now, it is still a question. We are still searching for possible donors and currently, we only had one volunteer.

Looking for people who are willing to lose and donate one kidney is very difficult. My family and relatives are willing but you can’t help but sense a little apprehension. The doctors say that we only need one kidney to live. So I asked myself, why then did God give us two kidneys? Without thinking twice, I found the answer –

So that we can donate the other one and save someone’s life.

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