Like many of their kind, Amor Orpilla and Mary Grace Binay-an had survived on empty. Once, twice, or even repeatedly, they had skipped a session of their twice-a-week hemodialysis, the filtering out of impurities in the blood through a machine that substitutes for kidneys.
Hemodialysis is expensive, that’s why. It’s also for a life-time, unless one could afford to undergo kidney transplant.
So last Wednesday evening, the two young women and 11 relatives of other patients perhaps weaker than them to make the trip, boarded a van for Quezon City. Before dawn the following day, they joined the early queue of hundreds at the Lung Center for interview and, hopefully, the release of “letter guarantees” entitling a patient to fund support for dialysis sessions at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, courtesy of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
By noon Thursday, Amor texted with deep relief that she had been interviewed and was already waiting for the LG, and for Mary Grace to have her turn. All 13 were on their return trip to the PCSO, having lined up last June 14 but were told to go back a week after, either for the interview or to pick up their guarantee letters.
Before five o’clock p.m., they were on their way home, each clutching a guarantee letter advising the BGHMC to charge PCSO either P17,600 or P20,000 worth of dialysis sessions.
At P2,2000 per session, the two girls’ letter guarantees were good for nine treatments spread out for over a month. That will give them time, in-between the four-hour treatment sessions, to knock on other doors still untapped or to be tapped again.
Among the doors that opened was that of a man who requested anonymity. The other week, he asked the two girls to meet him infront of the Baguio Cathedral. There, he handed them P10,000 each. They asked who he was but he declined to introduce himself, saying it was not important.
Two others responded to the girls’ assurance they can still work despite their affliction. An architect offered either of them clerical task. Another, a regional government agency head, said he could take in one of them as a job order by July.
These and similar acts of kindness of friends, relatives and total strangers have helped the two – and many others similarly situated – keep their bearings. And their faith, as in believing despite evidence to the contrary that comes during those times they couldn’t shell out P2,200 for their overdue round of blood-cleansing.
Amor, 31, of DPS barangay here, began her dialysis sessions in Jaqnuary, 2010. An only child, she lost her mother two cancer in 2004 and now lives with her father, a retiree and himself a heart patient. Father and son survive on his P3,000 monthly pension.
Mary Grace,23, is the ninth and last child of a barangay aide at Irisan, Baguio’s biggest barangay. She was into her senior year as an academic scholar in education at the Benguet State University when she began her life-time dialysis treatment in October, 2009.
A multi-awarded Kabataang Barangay head of Irisan, she still serves as its tourism officer.
Like Amor and many others similarly situated she uses “most of my time searching for funds of politicians, NGOs and political parties to finance my treatment because my family can’t support me”.
She and Amor now find strength in knocking on doors together, also for their fellow “batchmates” on the Wednesday and Saturday treatment schedule at the dialysis room of the BGHMC.
People who can and would like to help may ring up Amor’s cellphone (09214193776) or Mary Grace’s number (09282179154).– Ramon Dacawi.