MANILA — Based on recommendations by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, President Rodrigo Duterte stressed the need to capacitate the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) to perform liver transplants so that Filipino patients need not go abroad for such medical operations.
The President expressed this when he met with the parents of a child with biliary atresia on Wednesday, January 15. He encouraged Ronald Naval and Kendy Aguilo to have their daughter Sophie undergo liver transplant in the country instead in India, which they prefer due to the lower cost of the operation there.
“Subukan natin dito. Ako, naniniwala ako. Hindi ako nambabarat—may pera at tutulong ako,” the President said.
A liver transplant in the Philippines is at least three times more expensive than the P1.2 million needed in India, but the cost is expected to go down once NKTI has the sufficient number of specialists and the necessary equipment and facilities.
The President and Go also prefer the procedure to be done in the Philippines so that the patient can receive better pre-operative and post-operative care and has easier access to financial assistance from relevant government agencies.
Go cited the unfortunate case of Eren Arabella Crisologo, the daughter of a Philippine Army soldier from Butuan City. The President and the senator first met the baby, who had biliary atresia, when they visited the wounded-in-action soldiers in a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City in March 2019. They sent the 11-month-old baby and her parents to India in June 2019, but the operation did not succeed.
“Sa kasamaang palad, nagkaroon ng komplikasyon si baby Eren kaya hindi na-survive ang operasyon,” Go said during a meeting in August 2019 with key government officials and private health care professionals to discuss the growing cases of biliary atresia in the country and the high cost of liver transplant.
It was during the meeting that the senator, upon consultation with health officials and practitioners, came up with short-term and long-term solutions to the problem that were presented to the President.
The short-term solution is forming a consortium among the Office of the President (OP), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) and The Medical City (TMC), a private hospital.
The long-term solution involves acquiring equipment for and developing the facilities of NKTI and sending its specialist staff to Kaohsiung Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital (KCGMH) in Taiwan for training. (SA/IA)