Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life - Proverbs 4:23.
HOW about those born with a fragile or defective heart? Does this give them a fragile and short life?
This could be a yes, however, for programs that can be the guardians of these patient's hearts like the Rotary Club of Cebu's Gift of Life program, a second chance is possible.
The Gift of Life program of Rotary Club of Cebu offers assistance in the treatment, logistics, and medication of indigent kids from Visayas and Mindanao with a congenital heart defect (CHD).
George Neil Paraoan, the Gift of Life and Services Projects Overall chairman, said they chose to assist CHD patients since it is a time-sensitive disease that is one of the top causes of pediatric morbidity and guarantees a short life for the patients.
"We want to reach out that congenital heart disease (CHD) can be treated," said Paraoan.
The Gift of Life started in 2007 with the help of the Rotary Club Makati West through a vocational team training (VTT) program.
The primary objective of VTT is to bring in medical professionals from abroad to Cebu and work together with local hospitals to help the CHD patients and train the local doctors in treating these patients.
However, with the pandemic, its partner local hospital is used as an isolation facility for Covid-19 patients and only accommodates emergency patients.
"Congenital heart disease doesn't stop. Babies are born every day and unfortunately, some of them are born with CHD. So, even with this time of pandemic, we find ways to continue," said Paraoan.
What they do now, Paraoan told SunStar Cebu despite the risk and the additional cost in logistics, they will send their beneficiaries to Manila to get treated.
The Gift of Life program has already helped over 200 patients since 2007.
During the pandemic, they have helped eight to 10 patients already and 16 patients are lining up to be treated.
Paraoan said the pandemic has also brought challenges in continuing their program particularly, in the logistics since they need to send the patients to Manila.
"We all know that the travel requirements are very challenging nowadays. We are sending patients to Manila, imagine, the risk that they are exposed to. Not all of these patients are from Cebu," said Paraoan.
With this, Paraoan told SunStar Cebu that they tap the local and private hospitals in Cebu to open their doors for the Gift of Life program and its beneficiaries.
"As of the moment, there is one hospital that is open to set up a meeting. Although there are some hospitals that for some reasons we are still waiting for their replies and we are still knocking their doors," said Paraoan
The advantage in having Cebu Hospitals partner with them, Paraoan said they could reduce the expenses since they can take out the travel expenses, with this, they can also increase the number of patients they could help.
"Ang among concern is ang risk kay naa kay ailment then you go to Manila pa so the risk is very very high so we wanted to take out that risk," said Paraoan.
Also, the Gift of Life program welcomes anyone who also wishes to offer support and aid for their program.
For individuals, they could help the Gift of Life by recommending someone they know who has CHD and contact them through their Facebook page, the Rotary Club of Cebu.
Paraoan said this could help them and the children to provide them with the treatment that they needed because despite their efforts there are still kids that expire.
"Those cases nga dili namo matabangan pushes us to do more kay we have the tools to help them, unfortunately not all among matabangan. We save who we can. Those who are treated are well and alive and are actually enjoying their second life," said Paraoan.
"Katong infant nga nagtinga sauna nya karon dako na. You'd be very glad and it is very heart wrenching nga makita nimo ang mga bata nga ingon ana. Diha nimo makita nga we are really doing something effective," said Paraoan.
If there are also companies who are looking for a program that has an impact on the community where they could offer aid and support as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Paraoan said they should choose the Gift of Life.
"We encourage you to do your part. Give the gift of life to these kids with Congenital Heart defects," said Paraoan./KFD