By Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce
For a father who needs P2 million for his 11-month-old baby’s operation, every centavo counts. So, he started keeping every coin that he gets, hoping that these would help him come up with the needed amount.
On Facebook, Jeric Trestre’s photograph counting his “centavo savings” for his daughter, Baby Esang, who needs immediate operation has gone viral, the poignancy of him counting 5, 10, and 25 centavo coins touching the hearts of netizens. It has been getting nearly 10,000 comments, over 35,000 Facebook reactions, and more than 70,000 shares, as of press time.
“Biliary atresia po ang sakit ng bata…. Liver transplant is the only cure for Baby Esang. It costs P1.6 million, to be done in Apollo Hospital in New Delhi,” LITRO (LIver TRansplant Operation) Babies Philippines, Inc. founder Jenny Sumalpong told Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview. Baby Esang is one of the 64 “LITRO babies.”
Biliary atresia is a condition where the bile ducts outside and inside the liver are scarred and blocked. Bile cannot flow into the intestine, so bile builds up in the liver and damages it. The damage leads to scarring, loss of liver tissue and function, and cirrhosis, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Jenny, the one who posted the photo on Facebook, said seeing Jeric count the coins broke her heart that day.
“Parang dinudurog puso ko. Nagbibilang ng centavo sa mismong ospital para makaipon lang ng pampa-opera ng anak,” she said.
Sadly, even if the post has gone viral, Jeric and his wife Zai have collected only P200,000 so far. The amount includes Zai’s income as a below minimum wage-earner factory worker, and the donations from all the people who were touched by their story. Jerry, on the other hand, had to stop working to take care of the child.
P2 M to save a life
Aside from the P1.6-million operation cost, the family also needs hundreds of thousands to take the baby to India, where the operation is much cheaper and with higher survival rates.
“Doon [India] po ang mura at doon ang mataas ang survival rate. Taiwan [operation] costs P4 million. P4.5 million dito (It’s cheaper in India and the survival rate is higher. Taiwan operation costs P4 million. Here in the Philippines, it’s P4.5 million),” Jenny said.
After Baby Esang’s doctor said that she was already an “urgent case,” Jeric became desperate to complete the amount needed for the operation.
“Ang batang may sakit na ganito usually ‘di na aabot ng two years old. Urgent na si Esang. Naisipan na mag-ipon ng centavos dahil desperate na (The doctor said children who have this illness usually do not reach the age of two. Esang is an urgent case. Her father thought of saving coins because they are desperate already),” Jenny said.
Jeric told Manila Bulletin that they were in the hospital then and he thought that saving every single coin that they have might make a big difference.
“Nasa hospital po kami noon at iyon lang po ang nakita kong paraan para po at least may maitabi po kami para po sa operasyon po ng bata (We were at the hospital then and that was the only way to at least save something for the child’s operation),” he said.
“Mahal na mahal po namin ang bata…. Wala pong magulang na matitiis po ang anak na nagdudusa sa sakit po at wala pong gagawin para sa anak nila upang mabuhay (We love her so much. No parent can endure the pain of seeing his/her child suffering from an illness without doing anything to extend the child’s life),” he expressed.
‘Please share your coins’
While people often ignore and even throw away centavo coins, every single bit will surely help Jeric’s family.
“If you have centavos na naiipon, puwede po ba bigay n’yo na lang for Baby Esang?” Jenny asked.
There is also a “Shirt for Baby Esang” campaign.
Jenny maintained that operation really saves a patient’s life, with her son as the living proof.
“Yes, my baby is a post transplant. I built the organization para maka-help. He’s four years old na po. Napakalaki ng hope,” she said.
“Sana po matulungan po ninyo kami sa pagpapaopera nang anak ko po na nagkakahalaga ng P2 million po (I hope you can help us complete the amount needed for our baby’s operation),” Jeric begged.
Those who want to donate may send a message to LITRO Babies Phils. Inc – Liver Transplant Operation Facebook page.