Issue of September 2, 2018
Mt. Province

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Doctors, health experts advocate for free organ donation


Faith in God, an open mind, and selflessness helped them survive to this day.

Two organ recipients from Bokod, Benguet and Aguinaldo, Ifugao have joined the campaign spearheaded by doctors and other medical experts to spread the rewards of voluntary organ donation.

Brent Pino of Bokod and Denver Awitan of Aguinaldo said they would still be undergoing dialysis to this day had it not been for the generosity and kindheartedness of their donors who gave their kidneys in order to prolong and give meaning to their life.

Prior to their kidney transplant, both were undergoing dialysis after they were diagnosed that both their kidneys are no longer functional and were told by their doctors that the only way to live a “normal” life again is to have a kidney transplant.

In Pino’s case, he admits that his kidneys broke down because of unhealthy lifestyle. For 14 months, he underwent thrice-a-week dialysis. During the period, and even without a prospect donor yet, he said he and his family underwent orientation about being a recipient of a kidney.

When family members learned about his need of a new kidney, Pino said a cousin immediately volunteered to donate one of her kidneys.

For six months, Pino and his donor underwent series of screenings and in July 2016, he became the recipient of a brand new kidney.

Pino, now 37 years old, has since resumed working as a government employee and recently got married. He said other than his quarterly checkups with his doctor, a few changes in his diet and physical activities, life has become better for him.

Awitan, on the other hand, underwent dialysis for three years prior to his undergoing a kidney transplant. Before he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, he frequently had urinary tract infections. Mostly, he was prescribed with pain relievers. One day however, he became so weak and could not stand anymore that his family decided to bring him to a hospital in nearby Solano, Nueva Vizcaya where he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.

He said lack of finances prevented him from pursuing a kidney transplant – an option that was also extensively discussed to him and his family by his attending physicians. Initially, he underwent thrice-a-week dialysis then twice-a-week when his creatinine levels improved.

For six months, he stayed at a relative’s house in La Trinidad so he could have his dialysis sessions at the Baguio General Hospital. Later on, his family decided for him to have his dialysis sessions in Solano because the dialysis center there was nearer their town in Aguinaldo.

Awitan said it was only when his mother learned about PhilHealth’s Z Package where she suggested that they both undergo surgery, and she will be his donor. Their relatives and pledges from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office helped raise the amount they needed to proceed with the surgery.

Like Pino, for six months, he and his mother also underwent series of tests and other procedures at the Philippine General Hospital. He was 26 years old at the time, while his mother was 52.

Two years after the surgery, Awitan said he feels renewed. “When I was undergoing dialysis I was always weak. Now, I am stronger and looking forward to being employed so I can help in the expenses at home and for the purchase of my anti-rejection drugs which I have to take for a lifetime,” he said.

Pino and Awitan’s case may sound uncomplicated to the public because their relatives willingly donated their kidneys but this is not the case for many patients needing to undergo organ transplant.

According to Lorma Medical Center Transplant coordinator Shannaleigh Flores, many Filipinos are still not receptive to the idea of organ donation.

Lorma Medical Center, based in San Fernando City, La Union, is the only private transplant facility in Region 1 and the only Z Benefit Package provider in Region 1. Because organ transplant is not yet being done in any of the hospitals in the Cordillera, some patients in the region undergo surgery in said hospital or in other hospitals outside the region.

Other reasons for not undergoing organ transplant are lack of financial resources, culture or the belief that when a person dies they should be buried with all their organs intact, and the unfounded belief that organ recipients will only have a short life span after undergoing surgery, while the health needs of organ donors will no longer be attended to after donation.

During the Department of Health-led deceased organ donation campaign last Thursday, Drs. Virginia Mangati of BGHMC and Ma. Luisa Paran of the DOH-Cordillera said these notions have to change. They said that by agreeing to be organ donors, the life of someone is given more meaning.

“I hope all Filipinos become potential donors. It is difficult to break cultural beliefs but instead of letting your organs die with you, donate and you extend the life of someone. It can be your legacy,” Paran said.

“Sa mga beauty contest lagi tayong na-ngunguna sa pagsuporta. Sana sa organ donation din manguna tayo,” Mangati added.  

At Lorma, for kidney donations alone, it takes an average of three to five years to wait for an organ donor, and the shortest, 18 months.

In the national waiting list, as of Aug. 18, out of 247 patients, 131 are “waiting” for kidney donors, and 16 are waiting for liver donors.

According to Philippine Network for Organ Sharing (Philnos) Transplant coordinator Gerard Paolo Villanueva, if Filipinos were more open to organ donation, many lives will be saved. Philnos and DOH are currently campaigning around the Philippines to enlist people to be organ donors.

By signifying to be an organ donor, Philnos issues a card that states that in case the donor is in the brink of death due to some circumstances, such as accidents, doctors may harvest the organ they specified to be donated.

Part of the responsibility of an organ donor is to inform family members that he/she will be donating an organ/s when they die.

Villanueva said this is to avoid issues about relatives refusing to honor the wishes of the donor.

In general, all organs of the body may be transplanted but in the Philippines there are only a few specialists that have expertise on all types of organ donation, Villanueva said.

In the Philippines, prominent organ donation cases are those of the late actor Mico Sotto and Jay Ilagan who donated their cornea to the Eye Bank and Taguig Rep. Lino Cayetano who donated his liver to his father, the late senator Rene Cayetano.

For those interested to become organ donors, visit the nearest DOH office in your locality or log on to @philnos.doh.



A day in the life of a Child Development Worker


Her simplicity, welcoming smile, mellow and kind voice, and warm motherly touch and embrace can make every child feel the love of a home.

Teacher Anna Chumawar just turned 62 years old on Aug. 22, but her sweet smile, captivating gracefulness, and refreshing outlook inspire every person she meets and motivate others to be like her. Despite spending 32 years as a Child Development Worker, she remains healthy, enthusiastic, jovial, and fulfilled. These could have been teacher Anna’s secrets for looking younger than her age.

Teacher Anna becomes an instant mother and a best friend to every child who enters the day care center. She embraces kids who cry every time they are dropped at the center. She fondly responds to a child’s request to be carried and sit on her lap. She patiently talks and stays with a child who is shy and helps her/him overcome it at her/his own pace. Also, she is a friend whom the kids trusted with their secrets.

A secretarial graduate at the Mountain Province College, now Mountain Province State Polytechnic College; she applied as a day care worker, now referred as Child Development Worker, at the Bontoc municipal government in 1982 and was appointed a permanent position in 1983.

Teacher Anna recounted her first teaching experience of looking after 150 children aged three to five years who were divided into morning and afternoon sessions at the Poblacion Child Development Center. When asked how she single-handedly managed that number of children, she said that children before were obedient and respectful. Thus, she was never stressed and was never burned out, despite managing her time at home as a solo parent and as a second mother to the children put under her care at the day care center.

It was during her stay at the Poblacion Day Care Center that the center received a Five Star rating from the Department of Social Welfare and Development when it was accredited as a center conducive to learning for children in 1989.

After her long stint at the Poblacion Day Care Center, Teacher Anna was transferred to Gonogon Day Care Center. She traveled early in the morning from Barangay Samoki to Barangay Gonogon where a bare classroom welcomed her. It was a challenge for her to make the center be completed with the four corners of learning namely “Me and Myself,” “Me and My Family,” “Me and My Community,” and “Values.” With enthusiasm and perseverance, she solicited the support of officials and parents to make the daycare center a place conducive for children to learn and play; and they responded positively. The efforts of Teacher Anna, parents, barangay officials, and other stakeholders paid off as the center received a Five Star rating from the DSWD.

Recognizing her passion, dedication, and efforts in turning a bare classroom into a conducive learning facility for children, she was designated as the Day Care Worker of the newly constructed Mag-eo Child Development Center in Barangay Bontoc Ili. She did not fail the expectations of officials and parents. She untiringly networked with the barangay, municipal, and provincial officials for support and assistance in turning the center into a well-equipped learning center. She communicated with the parents and requested for their help. She never hesitated to do all of these because she wanted the best for the children, which became her children too.

The efforts poured in by Teacher Anna, parents, and local officials in turning Mag-eo Child Development Center into a conducive learning center for children were not put to waste. The Mag-eo Child Development Center was accredited by the DSWD a Very Satisfactory (Level 2) rating compliance to the standards set in the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Center-Based Program. The center was declared a “show window” by the DSWD, which means that the learning facility is open for an educational tour or for those who want to learn and adopt the center’s best practices.

Despite all the victories earned by her children in all the child development centers where Teacher Anna came from, she remained silent about these achievements.

Her love of her work, her commitment in taking good care of children at the same time unleashing their God-given gifts, and going beyond the call of duty was recognized by the Bontoc municipal government, provincial government of Mountain Province, and DSWD.

Recently, Teacher Anna was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the DSWD- Regional Office for her outstanding performance and for being a nominee for the Most Active Child Development Worker Award.

She is grateful for the awards given to her and hopes that others would be inspired by her story. Teacher Anna has also a message to all the child development workers and teachers: “To the world, you may be just a teacher; but to your students, you are a star.”

Teacher Anna was right. She was a star, not only to those who have been her children in day care centers; but to everyone inspired by her story.



Dialogues solve water dispute in Mountain Province town

Traditional practices and beliefs in the Cordillera are still part of resolving disputes within the community. With the belief that a natural resource would disappear if a dispute lingers, involved parties look for ways to resolve their problem.

Guided by such belief, a dispute on water source ownership in Bauko, Mountain Province was resolved in record time.

The dispute started when one of the barangays started implementing its development project, improvement of the Level II water system.

After the project was prioritized for funding by the municipal government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development Kalahi-CIDSS, implementation of the project proceeded after the documents were submitted.

However, in May 2017, while implementing the project, some officials of Monamon Norte, a neighboring barangay, stopped the installation of water pipes from the water source at Mount Bulayok.

Barangay officials of Monamon Norte also visited the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS office in Bauko to express their concern about the ongoing project. They claimed that water from Mount Bulayok serves as the source of drinking water and irrigation of residents of (Sitio) Bansa.

A resident of Sitio Bansa also claimed that the pipes currently installed and tapped at the water source supplies the elementary school in the sitio and the installation of other water pipes might affect the sufficiency of water supply of the school.

To settle the issue, the mayor suggested a dialogue between the two barangays.

During the first dialogue, representatives from Barangay Mabaay showed a water permit issued to them in October 1981 and an agreement entered with the officials of Barangay Monamon Norte in 1988. The agreement states that “an intake tank shall be constructed at the water source and shall have two outlets equally leveled. One shall be used by Mabaay and the other outlet shall be used by Monamon Norte while their irrigation system is being constructed.”

Representatives from Barangay Monamon Norte admitted that they were not aware of such agreements. They then decided to refer the matter to farmers who will be affected by the improvement of water system in Barangay Mabaay.

The mayor told the body that “water is needed by everyone to be alive.” He said that based on the documents, Mabaay has a permit and a valid agreement showing their right to install water pipes.

He asked the representatives of Monamon Norte to allow the installation of water pipes and told them not to worry because there is an upcoming water system project worth P9 million that will benefit Sitio Bansa.

Even with this advice, Monamon Norte representatives maintained that they will refer the matter to affected farmers.

During the second meeting, not much was settled since the people needed by Monamon Norte were not present. Both barangays agreed to discuss with their constituents the issues before the next meeting.

On the next meeting, representatives from both parties agreed that water, indeed, is meant to be shared.

After acknowledging that everyone has the right to access potable water, both parties agreed that water on the left side of the source shall be used by Monamon Norte and elementary school and high schools while the water on the right side of the source shall be used by both barangays.

Part of their written agreement also states that an intake tank with two outlets installed on the same level will be constructed to benefit both barangays. They also committed to protect and preserve the water source and tanks.

The value of sharing natural resources and living in harmony with neighbors became the basis of resolution of the water source dispute. The water system in Barangay Mabaay is now serving 270 households.

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