Philippines First Successful Liver Transplant performed on a child

Are you familiar with Biliary Atresia? Honestly, I’m clueless with these terms but after I watched “Krusada” by Karen Davila in ABS-CBN I’ve learned from her. She said that it’s been 8 years since she started this crusade about Biliary Atresia. And in these 8 years she met different people who have this illness.

So what is Biliary Atresia – it is a blockage in the tubes (ducts) that carry liquid called bile from the liver to the gallbladder. The condition is congenital, which means it is present from birth. It is also called “yellow baby”, there is a problem with the liver that result to yellow discoloration of the skin including the eyes, abdomen become swollen, frequently fever and they are malnourished. Liver transplant is the only solution to survive the patient.

The sad part is Filipino patients here with this condition needs to go abroad and have the surgery. And it will cost more than a million pesos; Filipino has to spend large sums of money for transport and accommodations, in addition to the costs of care, abroad.

Among the countries that have this procedure were Taiwan, Hongkong and USA. If it’s in Taiwan it will costs P2-3 million, in Hongkong around P5-7 million and in USA P10-15 million this will covered 3 months expenses. Citizens in Taiwan were shocked to know that Filipinos here need to seek for help in order to accumulate this large amount of money. While in their country they only need to pay 10% of their expenses in the hospital and the rest from the government. If only there’s a kind of thing here.

Anyway, Dra. Maria Vanessa de Villa is a Filipino who does this operation abroad. Her specialty is transplant surgery. It is sad because our fellow Filipinos need to go abroad to have liver transplant and yet a Filipino doctor will do the surgery. So why not practice here in the Philippines? It’s simply because we are lacking on facilities and money. And we are talking about lives here so it’s very important that all things should have to consider.

She moves to Taiwan in the year 1998-2002 to learn more about this transplant surgery. Then she moves to Hongkong, in the year 2008 she finally back here in the Philippines believing that she was confident enough to handle liver transplant in our own country.

January 7, 2011, the first Pediatric Liver Transplant has been done in the Medical City, Philippines. The patient’s name is Catherine Erica Buenaventura, a three-year-old girl.

photos not mine

When Dra. De Villa saw Erica she said to herself that this little girl has a 50-50 chance of living. Because that time she was very sick and weighs only 10 kls. in her age of 3. She was also scheduled to fly in Taiwan for her surgery. But then the mother of Erica decided to undergo the operation here in our country. They give the full trust to Dra. De Villa. By the way, Erica is the second to the family who got this liver illness the other one was died.

The Operation

In order to have a successful liver transplant 2 persons are involved, the life donor and the patient. Erica’s uncle was the tough one who gives some part of his liver voluntarily. To cut the story short, the liver transplant lasted for about 12 hours and we should be very proud because it’s all Filipino team who made this successful operation. This is Philippines first successful liver transplant performed on a child. One of the Dr. described the operation as a historic event and a landmark achievement for our country. And Dra. De Villa said that God is very much behind in all these things. She said also that she was not nervous at that time but afraid but still she was taking the risk. She only trusts the Lord and the trust she gets from Erica’s family these are the things that made her confident enough to handle the operation.

Now, because of this success operation our fellow Filipino citizens will no longer fly abroad just to have this kind of surgery. We should only have complete facilities and financial support from our Government and in the end Filipinos will benefit.

I write this thing because I’m happy that another life has been out of danger. And it’s because of our God and intelligent Filipino doctors.