If you have dreams, get a transplant
CEBU CITY — “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.
Operation shown live
“I was scared,” he said. Mario, his wife and other relatives were at the conference room of the Cebu Doctors University Hospital (CDUH) where the operation was shown live through video feed.
The operation involving two teams took about four hours.
Roxas said the operation could be considered a success, initially, because the transplanted kidney produced urine minutes after the operation was completed.
Mario said the cost of the operation reached about P1 million but the amount did not matter as his son would be working again.
CDUH president Potenciano V. Larrazabal Jr. explained that the hospital had acquired accreditation from the Department of Health as the second facility in Cebu authorized to do kidney transplantation to meet a growing need.
“We want to show that Cebu can do all the things Manila can do and, perhaps, even better,” Larrazabal said. He noted that a number of patients had been waiting to have the operation.
Before CDUH’s accreditation, the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital was the lone accredited hospital for kidney transplantation and could only do two operations a month.
CDUH administrator Oscar A. Tuason said his hospital could accommodate as many as eight kidney transplantations per month with its eight suites dedicated to kidney patients. Tuason said the CDUH also plans to open additional renal rooms.
“We’re very excited because we have additional facilities to accommodate kidney transplantation. We have the facility and the skills are available locally,” Roxas said.
The Philippines has 20 organ transplant surgeons but there are only two of them practicing in Cebu, Roxas said. Davao has three such surgeons, Iloilo and Bacolod have one each while the rest are based in Metro Manila, he added.
Roxas said a good number of patients come from the Visayas and Mindanao so he expected more would seek treatment in Cebu.
Tuason also said the hospital spent over P1 million to acquire medical equipment for kidney transplantation. The hospital also spent P3.5 million for the light emission diode lighting system for the operating rooms.
Tuason could not say how much the kidney transplantation would cost although he said a similar operation at the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) could cost nearly P1.5 million. However, he noted that it would be more cost-effective to have a kidney transplantation than undergoing dialysis for life.
According to Tuason, each dialysis treatment costs a minimum of P3,000. Since a patient undergoes between two to four treatments a week, he would have to spend at least P312,000 a year for dialysis. While the patient has to spend a huge amount for a transplant, it would mean a normal life once again, he added.
Mario agreed since undergoing the operation would enable his son Lemuel to go back to work.
According to the World Kidney Day 2007 website (www.worldkidneyday.org), over 500,000 million individuals, or about one in every 10 adults, have some form of chronic kidney disease (CKD). It also disclosed that over 1.5 million people are alive through either dialysis or kidney transplantation.
The NKTI, in its annual report, said it registered a 17-percent increase in dialysis sessions while kidney transplantations rose by almost 7 percent.
If undetected, CKD’s first consequence is the risk of developing progressive loss of kidney function leading to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or transplantation. The second is premature death from associated cardiovascular disease.