Monday, March 24, 2008

Destinations are sometimes reached through circuitous routes

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Last March 3, CERV placement officer Eden Navia took 13-year old Van Mark Elisan and his mom to Manila for a possible operation to remove the horrid growth on the boy’s face. The operation is being made possible with the help of the Barnes family (USA), having met the boy in their first family volunteer program in the Philippines last year. They were able to harness the assistance of the famous craniofacial surgeon Dr Salyer.

The very next day, March 4, Vanvan (the boy’s nickname) was taken to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). It turned out that there was confusion on the dates and they were asked to come back the same day. On March 5, Vanvan was already admitted to the plastic surgery department of the PGH.

The PGH is the country’s biggest hospital and it is where most charity cases are addressed. Consequently, the lines for the laboratories are very long and the waiting time stretches for days. Eden patiently waited in line to have Vanvan’s x-ray and CT-scan examinations to be scheduled while his mother stayed by his hospital bed to take care of the precocious child. On March 7, Vanvan was finally x-rayed and the CT-scan was finally performed on the boy on March 9. While waiting for the results, he was diagnosed with pneumonia on his right lung. On the night of March 10, Vanvan suffered convulsions, which again happened on the morning of March 11. Vanvan was later diagnosed to be suffering from epilepsy, which remained unreported by his mother until that time.

On March 12, Dr Salyer was finally able to see Vanvan. After consulting with the local doctors, Dr Salyer decided to reschedule the operation to excise the growth on the boy’s face to a later date. In the meantime, he will be given time to recover from his pneumonia and to stabilize from his successive epilepsy attacks. Many kinds of medicines are now being administered to the boy, all bought from funds wired by the Barnes family.

On March 13, Vanvan’s mother had to rush back to Romblon to prepare for the graduation ceremonies of her students. Eden was left to look over the boy with the help of Vanvan’s elder sister. On March 15, the local doctors gave Eden permission to bring home the boy while convalescing. It turned out that the boy’s mother took the hospital forms with her, without which the boy could not be discharged. Eden called the mother up to have the papers delivered by courier, which arrived the next day. On March 16, Saturday, Vanvan was discharged from the hospital.

Vanvan’s siblings who are staying in Manila could not take care of the boy. Their homes are not suited to take care of an ailing child, plus the fact that they have jobs as well. So Eden took Vanvan to stay at the CERV dorm until his operation date could be scheduled. It will be known after he undergoes check-ups on March 26 and April 1. At the CERV dorm, Vanvan found new friends in Andrea, Eden’s equally precocious daughter, and Jaja, Vincent’s niece. Vincent cooks nutricious food for the boy to make his recover faster. He also washes the boy’s clothes and ensures that he takes his medicines on time.

In the meantime, the Barnes family keeps on asking for updates from CERV.

Everyone involved in this special project could not have known there are so many other issues that delay Vanvan’s total recovery. But no one is giving up and Vanvan is on his way to a better life, albeit circuitously.

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