John Rey with his father during the pre-operation
John Rey with his father during the pre-operation

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines-The recent eye operation given to John Rey Alegro, 2,  of Patag District, Catbalogan City, Samar proved to be successful when specialists from Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Vision Project ruled out that the child will be free from further complications.

Alegro is suffering a retinoblastoma an orbital (eye) tumor, a congenital anomaly a complication since birth.

Dr. N. Branson Call, in-charged of the Eye Department of the LDS Vision Charities, led the procedure on April 17 with assistance of Dr. Mae Singzon and Dr. Elvira Lanuevo, a local consultant of Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center-EENT Department.

“It was an answer to the department’s request of a hands-on lecture, a surgical procedure that our local eye specialist are uncomfortable of doing. Normally such cases are being referred to the higher center with which very impossible for the patient’s family to submit due to financial constraints,” noted Ricardo Aban, LDS-Tacloban Stake president.

Pres. Aban, who is also a resident nurse in EVRMC, was instrumental in bringing the Utah-based charity organization to the region.

The LDS Tacloban Stake expressed appreciation to the support of Dr. Alberto C. de Leon, EVRMC chief of hospital; Dr. Lemuel Gatchalian, EVRMC-EENT department chairman ; Manny Hernandez, Executive director at Mabuhay Deseret Foundation; Elder and Sister Hadlock of Utah,USA, the LDS Charities country directors; and the resident physicians of the EVRMC-EENT Department.

“Even though the child’s sight will not be restored, he will be free from further complications of cancer after the cytology result is ruled out,” he added.

According to Pres. Aban, Alegro’s eye health issues were “predominantly aggravated because they had lived in a remote island in Samar and no visible physician to consult with.”

“Perhaps if diagnosed in his early life he could have been saved from losing eye sight, which is one of the common experience and fate of our least fortunate countrymen and a sour reality of life.”

Meanwhile Dr. Call said he was grateful for the “wonderful privilege”  to serve the patients in the region.

Alegro’s father also father felt overwhelmed of the free operation with the assistance of LDS Charities, also appreciating the LDS Charities’ generosity and their desire to help the poor.

The mother however was noticeably absent during the operation because she has to nurse her another three-month old baby.

“I can’t get over with the feeling of compassion my heart is drawn to this child,” said Elder Hadlock.

Pres. Aban then announced Dr. Call and his team have remained interested  to visit the region for another medical missions in the future.

“They agreed to be back if being invited to check, treat, and perform surgeries if necessary,” said Pres. Aban.

The Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban was chosen as the latest beneficiary of the LDS Charities Vision and the Mabuhay Deseret Foundation Project for its eye surgical charity works in the Philippines.

Donation of medical instrument

On April 16, the two LDS charity groups turned-over medical instruments and supplies, microscope for eye surgical operations and provide training for the medical team EVMC-EENT department.

Dr. Alberto C. de Leon, chief of hospital, welcomed the donations of the two organizations, saying: “ The medical equipment and the training support will help EVRMC for its quality health care in the region.”

“Because of the limited funds of the government, we cannot procure certain equipment. We are grateful of your efforts,” added Dr. De Leon.

Meanwhile EVRMC-EENT department chairman Dr. Lemuel Gatchalian disclosed the eye surgical facilities and training extended to the hospital will complement to the present services they have had for the patients.

“We are happy being the recipient of the donation. Despite having also this kind of equipment, there is also a need for change, improvement on our side since some of our equipment are with us since the  90’s.”

Accordingly, EVRMC,  a top hospital in Region 8 serving already for 97 years, has only six doctors all combined for patients who have problems for eyes, ears, nose and throat.

“At this point in time, our EENT is combined when it should have its own separate departments like in other big hospitals. Lack of government funds hinder us to hire for more doctors and procure more new medical equipment. Yet we remained committed to our works,” Dr. Gatchalian said.

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