Filipino Families Find Hope for Liver Transplant at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi

According to www.worldlifeexpectancy.com, based on WHO data published in 2014, liver disease is 14th top cause of death in the Philippines. The National Kidney and Transplant lnstitute (NKTl) data shows that in 2005, Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates reported that  7,477 Filipinos died of liver cancer second to lung cancer (26.7%) with an estimated annual death of 15,881.

According to facts found in the DOH website, there was an estimated 5,249 cases of liver cancer in 1998, with 3,906 cases in males and 1,343 cases in females. About 4,403 deaths are expected to occur every year.

These facts don’t lie. But the sad fact is that the average medical cost of liver-related illness is expensive for the middle class Filipinos. Given the rising cost of medical and health services, and pharmaceutical products in the country as compared to other Asian countries such as lndia, Taiwan and Thailand, many Filipino families seeks medical attention abroad.

“Two days into the life of my baby, her health started to deteriorate,” says Jonalyn Belista, mother of two girls from San Pedro, Laguna. “We sought financial assistance from various local and foreign foundations as we knew the cost of a liver transplant was expensive. With God’s help, funds came in from overseas foundations. And we found our way to Apollo Hospitals,” adds Jonalyn.

The search of several Filipinos to find affordable medical services have led them to Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi. In the last few months, this hospital has performed several pediatric liver transplantation for Filipino children.

ln 1963, Thomas Starzl performed the first-ever liver transplant. Advances in science and technology have shifted liver transplant as an experimental procedure in the 60s and 70s to a standard treatment for acute and chronic liver disease and certain types of cancer. Survival rates have increased and program have expanded to nearly 100 countries. There is also growing number of patients on the waiting list and availability of donors. In the United States alone, around 17,500 patients are waiting to receive a liver.  Cost remains to be a significant factor for liver transplants.

 

The Apollo Transplant Program

Medical Director of Apollo Hospitals, Dr. Anupam Sibal

The liver is the largest internal organ. It helps the body digest food, store energy, remove toxins and clears wastes from the blood. While the liver can take some damage and has the ability to regenerate, there is no known treatment that can help the do liver all that it does when it is critically damaged. A liver transplant is the only way to address this damage.

Dr. Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals Group and Senior Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said,  “The Apollo Transplant Program not only caters to the domestic needs, but also to patients from 44 other countries as far as Bolivia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. We also have many patients from India’s neighbors like Nepal and Pakistan.”

“Our transplantation success rates are comparable to the centers in many developed countries which is truly a credit to the excellent team at Apollo that adheres to the highest standards of clinical care.  We value the trust our patients put in us with regard to the most complicated of liver transplants for example, in babies weighing as less as 4 kilograms transplants, in children with tumors and combined liver–kidney transplants,” explains Sibal.

“We are privileged to offer hope to babies and children from Philippines. The support structure in Philippines for families is remarkable with parents supporting each other. The support from foundations and support groups is truly exemplary. The ‘pay it forward’ culture is so heartwarming and I have not seen this in other countries,” he added.

Dr. Sibal further added, “Liver transplantation in acute liver failure is more complex than a regular liver transplant.  Since its inception, liver transplant surgery has come a long way.  We are now able to perform transplants in high-risk cases, very small babies, and patients with difficult anatomy and patients with multi organ dysfunction.  We have also performed liver transplants in patients who do not have blood compatible donors.  It is this expertise that gives hope and happiness to patients from world over who come to Apollo Hospitals to seek respite from their ailments.”

The first successful liver transplant in India was performed at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi in November 1998.  Sanjay Kundasamy was born with a rare condition called Billary Atresia, which is seen in one in 12,000 babies. His father donated a part of his liver. Today, Sanjay is now a medical student leading a normal life. ln 2008, the youngest pediatric liver transplant was done on a 6-month old baby from Kolkata, India. Since then more than 2900 liver transplants have been performed at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi of which 235 have been in children.

In photo are (L-R): General Manager of Apollo Hospitals, Mr. Raj Raina; Ms. Mary Grace Almajar and Baby Nathan; Medical Director of Apollo Hospitals, Dr. Anupam Sibal; Ms. Rebecky Rubio and Baby Kalem; and Ms. Jonalyn Belista and Baby Briseis.

Today, there is hope from many other Filipino patients who have undergone successful liver transplants at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.  Within the past few months, several babies have benefitted from the hospital’s Apollo Transplant Program.

These children include Jermaine Briseis J. Belista, a one year old girl was advised a liver transplant due to advanced liver failure. She had been admitted multiple times due to vomiting of blood. “The LITRO group shared with us some ideas on how to raise funds,” says Jonalyn. The family sold t-shirts, yema spreads, and crinkles. They also received donations in kind Jermaine’s father was found to be a compatible donor and underwent a successful liver transplant at Apollo Hospitals. Jermaine has fully recovered from the transplantation,” says Jonalyn.

“My baby Nathaniel Almajar had displayed yellow discoloration of eyes and skin which had deepened with time. He was diagnosed with chronic liver disease with Caroli disease, which is a rare congenital disorder of the intrahepatic bile ducts,” says Mary Grace. The family undertook various ways to raise money given the costs involved for a liver transplant. The family flew to India on 26 June 2017. Nathan underwent liver transplant on 6 July 2017.

“It took 8 to 10 hours to extract liver from the donor and another 10 to 12 hours to perform the transplant on Baby Nathan. Two months later, 25 August 2017, we flew back to the Philippines. Our family and friends are all very happy that Nathaniel is back home,” adds Mary Grace. Nathaniel had successfully undergone a liver transplantation and was discharged after 3 weeks.

“When Kalen was 2 months old, we  noticed the yellowing skin of his skin and we thought that simply exposing him to sunlight would help his skin go back to normal, but it didn’t. So we decided to bring him to the pediatrician and series of laboratory tests and ultrasound were done,” narrates Rebecky Lizada. Kalen’s parents searched the internet for hospitals that performed liver transplantation and discovered Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. Last August 2017, they went to India for Kalem’s liver transplant. It took 10 hours of continuous praying, for Kalem’s transplant to be done. He stayed in the ICU for almost 11 days, then finally shifted to a regular room. Today, Kalem is still having his medication and weekly check-ups here in the Philippines

Kalem Asher Lizada, was only one month old when he developed jaundice and was diagnosed with biliary atresia with chronic liver disease. He was advised a liver transplant. “Our son’s operation was a successful and we are very grateful to the medical team at Apollo as Kalem was discharged 3 weeks after surgery.”

Genesis Louis De Guzman is a one year old boy who had developed pneumonia after birth. During his hospitalization, he developed worsening jaundice and was diagnosed with biliary atresia. His condition worsened as he developed progressive abdominal distension. He underwent a living related liver transplantation. He is now on his way to a full recovery.

Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals has the leading program in kidney and liver transplant in lndia “We are proud to have had the country’s first successful pediatrics and adult liver transplants in India and look forward to giving hope to many Filipino children faced with liver-related illnesses,” says Sibal.

About Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals

Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, India’s first JCI accredited hospital, is a joint venture between the Government of Delhi and Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited. Commissioned in July 1996, it is the third super-specialty tertiary care hospital set up by the Apollo Hospitals Group. Spread over 15 acres, it houses 57 specialties with more than 300 specialists and more than 700 operational beds, 19 operation theatres, 138 ICU beds, round-the-clock pharmacy, NABL accredited laboratories, 24-hour emergency services and an active air ambulance service.

The hospital is at the forefront of medical technology and expertise. It provides a complete range of latest diagnostic, medical and surgical facilities for the care of its patients. The Hospital has been consistently ranked amongst the best 10 hospitals in India by The Week survey for the past few years.

 

Hospital website – www.delhi.apollohospitals.com

Email: infodelhi@apollohospitals.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/indraprasthaapollohospitals

Twitter: @HospitalsApollo

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