Bohol Governor Art Yap and Philippine Gift of Life Foundation President/CEO Fancy S. Baluyot presented the Boholano community with a life-changing gift for the Sandugo-festive month of July with the highly-successful conduct of the “Gift of Sight” Cataract Surgical Mission last July 16-22, 2019 at the Bohol Medical Care Institute in Dao District, Tagbilaran City.
This massive humanitarian event, which was sponsored by the Provincial Government of Bohol thru the active lead of Governor Art Yap, Vice Gov. Rene L. Relampagos and Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Fe D. Pioquinto managed and organized by the Philippine Gift of Life thru the energetic initiatives of its President and Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Fancy S. Baluyot, was performed by a topnotch team of expert ophthalmologists and renowned eye surgeons from the International Academy of Medical Specialists (IAMS), Philippine Academy of Medical Specialists (PAMS) and the Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International.
This surgical team, which was spearheaded by PAMS Medical Outreach Chairman Dr. Federico Malubay and SEE International Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Levenson, included Dr. Jose Gonzalo M. Ditching, Dr. Paulo Faustino A. Camacho, Dr. Alexander G. Sangrador, Dr. Leonard C. Tan, Dr. Haydee Jacklyn Malubay, Dr. Ralph Eric Jardeleza, Dr. Aufael Jess Villacastin and nine (9) highly-experienced nurses complemented by a team of volunteers nurses from the University of Bohol and Holy Name University.
Mrs. Baluyot bared that this free mission was ably-supported by the City Government of Tagbilaran thru the lead of Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” Yap II, Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso and City Administrator Leonides Borja; Bohol Medical Care Institute thru its Chairman Mr. Richard Uy and Administrator Dr. Myra Lynn G. Melisimo; Philippine Medical Association (PMA) thru its President Dr. Jose Santiago, Jr. and PMA Governor for Central Visayas Dr. Kazan S. Baluyot; and by the Rotary Club of Tagbilaran – District 3860 thru its President Rtn. Irena Heberer and Vice President Engr. Victor Bantol.
The week-long surgical event officially kicked off with a short opening program in the morning last July 16, 2019 at the Bohol Cultural Center, which was attended by top local government officials led by Gov. Art Yap, Tagbilaran City Mayor Baba Yap, Cong. Kristine Alexie Tutor, Board Member Jade Bautista, Provincial Administrator Atty. Kathyrin Fe Pioquinto, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Nilo Ahat and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot; Philippine Gift of Life officers led by President/CEO Mrs. Fancy Baluyot, Vice President Rev. Fr. Victor Bompat; PMA President Dr. Jose Santiago, Jr. and PMA Governor for Central Visayas Dr. Kazan Baluyot; Bohol Medical Society thru its President Dr. Jefferson Ong; Rotary Club of Tagbilaran – District 3860 officers and members headed by its President Rtn. Irena Heberer; Cataract Surgical team members led by Dr. Federico Malubay and Dr. Jeffrey Levenson and the thousands of indigent cataract patients and their accompanying relatives.
Immediately after the opening program, the final medical screening of patients followed suit for the whole day of July 16th, also at the Bohol Cultural Center.
The mission’s actual cataract surgeries simultaneously took its course on July 17-20, 2019 at the Bohol Medical Care Institute, which readily offered the free surgical venue thru its ever-active Chairman Mr. Richard Uy and Administrator Dr. Myra Lynn Melisimo.
On the evening of July 21st, Gov. Art Yap, and Philippine Gift of Life President/CEO Mrs. Fancy Baluyot led officials in a recognition event at the Belian Hotel wherein they fittingly awarded plaques of recognition to this mission’s topnotch eye surgeons and ophthalmologists, and certificates of appreciation to the hard-working nurses and volunteers.
Highlights of this free cataract mission included a 91-year-old as the mission’s oldest patient; an 8-year-old partially-blind from Talibon, Bohol as the youngest patient; a 64-year-old and 67-year-old sibling from Ubay, Bohol and there were ten patients whose birthdays coincidentally fell on the surgical mission dates of July 16-22, 2019.
This massive free mission, thru the selfless dedication of the top surgical team led by Dr. Malubay and Dr. Levenson, was able to perform 553 surgery patient-beneficiaries during the actual surgical days at the Bohol Medical Care Institute. These 553 operated patients were part of the 1,186 indigent recipients of the free medical check-up/screening and provision of eye medications/vitamins and free reading eyeglasses at the Bohol Cultural Center last July 16th.
The actual surgical operations ran virtually through four full days from July 17-20, 2019 at the Bohol Medical Care Institute as the surgical team worked around the clock starting at 8:00 AM in the mornings each day until the wee hours of dawn at 2:00 AM the next day, sacrificing much-needed rest just to successfully complete the surgeries for the 553 patient-beneficiaries.
The quantified cost of each eye operation if paid is P80,000 to P100,000 but thanks to this massive mission the hundreds of underprivileged cataract patients got free access to the life-changing cataract surgeries. Gov. Art Yap, Mayor Yap and PGL head Mrs. Baluyot want to extend their utmost gratitude and sincere thanks to the great pro-bono medical-surgical efforts of Dr. Malubay and Dr. Levenson’s surgical team for restoring the gift of sight to our poor and marginalized Boholano patients.
The cataract mission had its own share of serendipitous twists and turns. It had an elderly man, who had been virtually blind for a long time, accompanied by her wife all throughout the process from the medical pre-screening to the actual surgery and post-surgical period. These old couple, who fondly calls each other by “my love”, was one of the endearing stories of the this surgical mission, as they hugged each other with tear of joy when the patient was able to see his wife again after his successful eye surgery.
Then there was this group of elderly patients from an islet in the town of Getafe, Bohol, who was not able to catch up with the medical pre-screening at the Bohol Cultural Center last July 16th because they could not cross the seas due to the high tides and strong winds brought by a recent tropical storm that hit the coastal areas. The following day they gambled and endured the long, tedious travel and went straight to the mission venue, and once there they pleaded the surgical team to consider their sad plight.
This group of patients arriving late for the mission, thought it was better to end their lives if they were not able to be operated, but thanks to the humanity and benevolence of the light-hearted surgical team led by Dr. Eric Malubay, the group was included in the mission. Dr. Malubay took no stones unturned and immediately scheduled a special medical pre-screening for this group of patients on that day and they underwent the successive surgeries thereafter.
This free Cataract Surgical Mission was concluded with a massive post-surgical follow-up medical check-up of the 553 successfully-operated patients at the City Evacuation Center Gym located within the Tagbilaran City Hall complex last July 21, 2019. This event included a series of activities such as the free medical check-up and provision of free eye medications and vitamins to the mission patient-beneficiaries.
This free cataract mission was coordinated and organized by the Philippine Gift of Life Foundation, which is a non-profit humanitarian / health institution which promotes medical and surgical volunteerism missions and other health outreach programs for the less-fortunate and underprivileged strata of society, thus significantly helping reduce the burden of surgical disease worldwide through the conduct of life-changing free surgeries and optimal surgical care.
The officer and members of the Philippine Gift of Life Foundation Board of Trustees are as follows: Chairman – Dr. Ramie A. Cadag; President / Chief Executive Officer – Mrs. Fancy S. Baluyot, RN; Vice President – Rev Fr. Victor G. Bompat; Corporate Secretary – Mr. Peter P. Dejaresco; Treasurer – Engr. Albert M. Uy; Auditor – Mr. Benjamin Ong. The PGL Directors include Dr. Mary Ann A. Ruiz, Mr. Richard T. Uy, Mr. Joseph S. Alagon, Dr. Pepe P. Recitas, Mrs. Cates A. Climaco, Dr. Edgar F. Lerias, Mr. Toto F. Jabonillo and Engr. Victor J. Bantol.
The Philippine Gift of Life advisers include Gov. Art C. Yap, Tagbilaran City Mayor Baba Yap, Bohol’s three District Representatives – Cong. Edgar M. Chatto, Cong. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado and Cong. Kristine Alexie B. Tutor; while the PGL medical consultants include Dr. Florante B. Lomibao, Dr. Avenilo P. Aventura, Dr. Francisco G. Dizon, Dr. Federico A. Malubay, Dr. Edgardo E. Ortiz, Dr. Elmer G. Punzalan, Dr. Kazan S. Baluyot, Dr. Julia B. Maape, Dr. Joseph Paul Clawson and Dr. Ma. Bernadette A. Azcueta. (PR)