Davao City, August 12, 2019 — President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go have joined in the efforts to help two babies with biliary atresia undergo a liver transplant in India.
The President had earlier offered assistance to a Philippine Army soldier’s baby, named Eren Arabella Crisologo from Butuan City, and another child from Cebu, Dionifer Zephaniah Itao. The President and the Senator first met baby Eren when they visited the wounded-in-action soldiers in a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City last March, while baby Dionifer was presented to Go during one of his visits to fire victims in Cebu early this year.
Biliary atresia is a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts that also occurs in infants. Given the complications attributed to the disease, the operation needed to address it is not readily available in the country.
Last June, both babies Eren and Dionifer had flown together with their parents to Apollo Hospital in India for the needed medical operation. Despite efforts in providing the best and world-class medical attention, 11-month old baby Eren did not survive the complications of the said operation.
“Ito po si Eren Crisologo, isang 11-month old na anak ng isang Philippine Army at lumapit po ito kay Pangulong Duterte sa isang pagbisita namin sa hospital ng mga sundalo sa Cagayan de Oro,” Go shared during their visit upon the arrival of the family of baby Eren and her remains late Sunday evening in Davao City.
Go added that, during that visit in Cagayan de Oro City, the President asked him to send right away baby Eren to India for the necessary medical assistance. “At sinabihan ako kaagad ng Pangulo na ipadala ito agad sa India.”
Go further said that there were processes needed to be done and that there was a compatible donor for the liver transplant but, despite best efforts, baby Eren did not make it. “Naging maganda naman ‘yung operation pero nagkakumplikasyon.”
Now that the Crisologo family has come back to the country, the President offered his assistance by providing for burial and transportation expenses. “At ngayon, sasagutin niya (President Duterte) ang pagpapalibing at transportation po hanggang makauwi sila,” Go said.
Baby Eren’s parents, Erne Crisologo, a soldier, and Charibel Crisologo, a teacher, thanked President Duterte and Senator Go. Still in grief, they went to Davao City first to meet both officials before going home to Butuan City.
“Nalulungkot po kami ni Pangulong Duterte. Sabi nga ng nanay, nagkataon din po na dito sila napadaan kasama ang labi ng bata bago dalhin sa kanilang hometown sa Butuan dahil, sabi ng nanay, magpapasalamat daw po kay Pangulo. Sabi naman ni Pangulo na huwag kaming pasalamatan dahil trabaho po ni Pangulo ‘yun,’” Go explained.
Meanwhile, baby Dionifer is still in India undergoing more tests for the procedure. “Naiwan pa po ‘ung isang baby (Dionifer) sa India, marami pa pong tests na ginagawa dahil kailangan talagang compatible ito (liver from donor),” Go said adding that the success story of 4-year-old baby Xia Kazumi Ngo is proof of hope for each child with biliary atresia.
“Meron na rin po kaming natulungan noon, taga-Taguig, and it was a success story. Ngayon po ‘yung bata very jolly, naglalakad, masaya, malusog na po,” Go said.
Go was inspired by the story of baby Xia who was also diagnosed with biliary atresia, and is now in a healthier state after undergoing a similar medical procedure in India early this year. Baby Xia successfully had a liver transplant through the efforts of Go and numerous other donors who helped shoulder expenses. The baby’s parents sought the help of Go during a chance encounter in Taguig City last year.
As numerous cases of biliary atresia among Filipino infants had been reported, the neophyte Senator has committed to find solutions to help the current situation of patients and the doctors and specialists needed. As the Senate Committee on Health Chair, Go shared in an interview that he aims to have specialists in our country to alleviate the burden of sending patients to other countries for medical operations.
“Sa ngayon po, as Committee on Health chair, gusto ko sanang magkaroon din sana tayo ng specialists para sa pag-transplant ng liver sa mga bata. I heard mayroon tayo for adults pero wala talaga sa bata kaya pinapadala talaga sa India ‘yung mga baby,” Go said.
He emphasized that there is a need to support Filipino doctors to be trained in cases such as biliary atresia. “Magpaaral tayo ng mga doctors para maging specialists po rito. Maraming cases po ng liver problems na kailangan sila,” Go said.