AS IS the case for ordinary mortals, Leonardo Nalos’ name found print at least three times the past two years in the local weeklies simply and only because he had to appeal for help to sustain his expensive, thrice-a-week hemodialysis treatment for kidney failure.
His case is featured again this week-end, so his wife Ofelia, on behalf of two-year old daughter Ira, can thank several individuals and institutions that had reached out to him since the diagnosis came out in mid-February 2013.
Nalos, a 31-year-old carpenter sidelined by his affliction, passed on last Sunday afternoon in his hospital bed, hours after Ofelia renewed the family’s appeal through the weeklies.
“Through the media outlets, we hope to be able to thank those who had responded to our appeal for help that sustained my husband’s treatment,” Ofelia said at the wake. “We owe it to tell them that Leonard’s suffering is over and that we are grateful for their help that extended his time with his family for at least two years.”
Most of the generous souls she wanted to thank she and family hardly knew. Some they never met. They include a fortyish looking-gentleman who, after reading of Leonard’s case last Sunday, called up Ofelia, advising her to meet him at the Baguio Cathedral where he handed P2,500.
“He declined to introduce himself, except to say his name is Roger,” Ofelia said. “Just then, I had to rush back to the hospital as the wife of another kidney patient also confined called me up, saying my husband was in an emergency situation.”
Leonard’s remains were brought for a two-day wake at the home of his parents- in-law, Roberto and Corazon Boldoken, at Purok 8, Dontogan Barangay, a precipitous area near the foot of Mt. Sto. Tomas where a community of blind people grew.
The Boldoken couple, who are both blind, ably raised their four children – Ofelia, Roderick, Trebor and Rene – by working as masseurs and reflexologists . Corazon traces her roots to Lamut, Ifugao, while Roberto comes from Dandanak, Besao, Mt. Province.
When illness incapacitated Leonard, the couple supported his treatment, financially and morally. Last Wednesday, they and other blind mourners inched their way to the burial grounds for the final rites.
At high noon by the graveside at the edge of the filled-up, hilltop cemetery after the “Beyond the Sunset” crematorium in Tadiangan, Benguet, they sang “Amazing Grace”, the Christian hymn that speaks of forgiveness and redemption.
“My husband, who was born in Pangasinan, asked that when it would be his time to go, he would be buried here in Baguio where we met,” Ofelia said.
Shoshin Kinderhilfe, a Germany-based foundation headed by former world Shotokan karate champion Julian Chees , shouldered the plot cost. Chees last year also supported Leonard’s dialysis treatment.
When Leonard was hospitalized for the last time, a public works contractor who now and then would contribute to charity, handed, through courier, P2,000,
“to a patient who needs it most”. Another anonymous soul added P4,000 for the hospital and medicine expenses and would-be hemodialysis. The amounts were used for the needs during the wake.
One among about 200 dialysis patients at the BGHMC, Leonard needed help the most. Doctors recently found his heart was too feeble to stand the pressure of having to undergo hemodialysis three times a week, four hours each time.
“The doctors recommended a shift to peritoneal dialysis to ease pressure on his heart,” Ofelia said. “Before that could be done, he had to undergo angiogram and surgery, two expensive procedures we had no way of paying.”
Those procedures are now under the bridge. Leonard no longer have to take two hours to slowly climb up the steps to the dirt road and to the main highway for his dialysis. Of the moment is the family’s expression of gratitude to its Samaritans, before Ofelia starts mustering a widow’s might to figure out how to chart her daughter’s future. (Ramon Dacawi)