Built on a vision to help

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


WITH the countless bars and restaurants abound in the city, people are left with a slew of options where to go to party all night and drown themselves with bottles of beers and wines 'till dawn while some others pig-out at affordable and upscale buffet restaurants.

Partygoers chug more beers, puff more cigars, and eat more fat inducing foods every now and then, given the long-list of go-to places to hangout one night after another. It’s not being so nice to the body, is it? That’s how night life is for some.

Sedentary lifestyle is often the primary culprit of kidney disease, according to Dr. Maria Theresa Lorenzo Bad-ang of the Renal Disease Control Program (Redcop) of the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao.

We are often told that too much drinking of alcohol will slowly damage our kidneys. But for some, that reminder – clichéd reminder at that - seems unclear.

“Kidney disease has no overt manifestation or clinical symptoms, and thus patients would rather not seek any medical consultation from a nephrologist,” she added.

Dr. Michael Manalaysay, medical director of Lavie Dialysis Center, added that symptoms such as hypertension, anemia, and poor appetite can only be seen with patients at the end-stage renal disease. This only means clear manifestations are barely seen at the early onset of kidney disease.

“Wala pang nararamdaman ang tao sa early stages, kahit laboratory tests. They don't even know that their kidney is now being damaged until such time the symptoms are now very clear already - hypertension, anemia, poor appetite, not feeling well,” he said.

Seldom do people who have sedentary lifestyle undergo a urinalysis, a laboratory test to find out abnormalities in the kidney, said Bad-ang. Once they find out, it’s too late to rewind time back to the days when they’re still on the verge of choosing whether to abuse their bodies or not.

Though people who now have kidney problems are still left with few options whether to go for a transplant (but it’s costly) or dialysis treatment, prevention is still the best option yet, Manalaysay said.

“Ang mga filipino kain, inom, sigarilyo, highblood, hindi nila alam na nasisira na ang kidney nila,” he added.

But for him, those who are now in the end-stage renal disease should not be deprived of having a quality dialysis treatment nonetheless, most especially those who have less in life.

“When we talk about dialysis, we're talking about replacement (of blood) treatment. Patients with damaged kidney beyond repair need dialysis,” he said.

Dialysis treatment takes over the function of the kidneys, incapacitated to clean the blood with toxins that are brought in by excessive drinking of alcohol and eating too much of fatty foods.

Preventing a number of complications from occurring is just one reason why patients have to undergo a dialysis. However, it should not be equated to curing the kidney once a patient undergoes a regular treatment.

“Dialysis is not as sufficient as our natural kidney. It's a treatment para sa nawalang kidney function. Kidney functions every second, every minute, every hour of the day. Kung nag-dadialysis kana, meaning sirang-sira na,” he said.

What make patients dubious about going into the hospitals, or dialysis centers, is because of some considerations, with the cost being the primary. The treatment itself is costly and is not afforded by low and medium income earners. Kidney disease is not only a problem of the rich.

Manalaysay said he wanted the treatment to be accessible by many patients. Out of this goal that they built La Vie Dialysis Center back in 2010, aiming to provide quality healthcare for patients who need quality and affordable medical services, according to him.

“One of the things we agreed with our partners was to offer dialysis treatment in this part of the country and, at the same time, at the most affordable cost,” he said.

“There are two kinds of dialysis – acute and chronic. For acute dialysis, nasa hospital temporarily hindi nagwowork ang kidney, for example kung meron dengue. Chronic dialysis, ito na ‘yung sa may end-stage renal disease,” he said.

So far, Manalaysay said La Vie claimed to have the most affordable dialysis treatment in the country at P188 only. With this, patients who need to have a regular treatment don’t have to worry much of the bills and can still go on with the necessary medications.

“I'm trying to help. The motive behind lowering the price is I want the patients to survive a longer period of time and afford their dialysis so that they will have more money to buy the medicines,” he said.

Ideally, patients should be able to undergo dialysis thrice a week; daily is much even better. Before the center was open for business, some of the patients could barely have twice in a week.

The establishment of La Vie (which means “life” in French) could be a realization of their one mission of making the treatment more accessible by those who need it the most and business is just secondary for them, according to Manalaysay.

“We want it be accessible to everybody - rich and poor. That’s the reason why we set it up,” he added.

It’s the vision to help a lot of individuals sustain the most needed treatment and live longer that helps the center stay true to its name. Even patients coming from different parts of Mindanao seek treatment from the La Vie Dialysis Center.

In fact, the center just acquired about 10 new machines from Germany to keep the quality standards up and, at the same time, cater more patients. The center now has a total of 48 operational machines. It also has 18 nurses, attending to the patients.

“Over a period of time gusto ko palitan lahat and refine our services,” he said.

In a press conference last year, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded a 10 percent increase in the number of new patients with kidney disease every year.

Based on a record from DOH 11, out of the 9,716 new cases in 2010, National Capital Region (NCR) comprised the most number of cases with a total of 34 percent, followed by Central Luzon with 12.5 percent, Northern Luzon with 11.7 percent, Davao Region with 5.9 percent, and Western Visayas with 5.6 percent.

Again, prevention is but the best cure to any illnesses. Just keep everything in moderation, as what they say.

La Vie Dialysis Center is located at the ground floor of FTC Tower, 1034 Mt. Apo Street, Davao City.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 26, 2013.

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