A report from the workers at the Philippines Self Help Foundation:
Around noontime on 18th March, our Bacolod administrator Sherry, together with our field worker Warlita and I (Ireen) journeyed to Bago City to meet with Alfie Gico (38), a grant recipient from September 2020. We were at the tricycle terminal when Alfie showed up on his tricycle (a three-wheeled vehicle that transports passengers). He transported us to his home in Barangay Abuanan, about 17 kms from the city proper of Bago, Negros Occidental. As we entered the family’s living room, we were greeted warmly by his father Alberto (65) and by his sister Anabelle. The Gico family home is a roughly-built, one-roomed concrete house. The room has a cloth curtain to separate Anabelle and her family’s sleeping quarters and Alberto and Alfie’s room. Alfie’s mother Maria Fe (62) does not live with them, as she works in another town as a housekeeper and comes home just once a week. We sat down on a wooden chair and Anabelle offered each of us a slice of melon. Alfie was an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in Dubai for three years and it was here that he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, stage 5, in January 2016. He was hospitalized for a week while in Dubai and thought he would not survive, as he was in ICU and was comatose for three days. Alfie was grateful that his company paid for his dialysis and hospitalization and assisted him to come home to the Philippines. According to Alfie, his constant eating of instant noodles and taking pain relievers whenever he felt pain in his knees as a welder had destroyed his kidneys.
Now, Alfie is in his 8th year of having dialysis (twice a week every Tuesday and Friday). In order to have his dialysis session in Bacolod, he takes a day-off from transporting passengers on his tricycle. He leaves home at 5:30 in the morning and gets to the clinic an hour later. For these visits to Bacolod, he rides a motorcycle which a kindly neighbour lends him. In 2020, when Alfie received funds from the PSHF, it enabled him to have regular dialysis and even to have a twice a week Epoetin injection which serves to increase his haemoglobin. When our assistance was fully spent, Alfie was helped by his younger brother Aljon, who worked in an autoshop, to fund his dialysis. Tragically, Aljon died in September 2022 from a haemorrhage, when he was accidentally crushed against a wall by a truck. The truck driver was manoeuvring the truck backwards to park it when this tragedy occurred. The death of Aljon was a big loss to the Gico family as he had been the breadwinner. As Alfie became depressed after losing his brother, at times he was not mindful of his need to keep having dialysis. His mother was the one who pushed Alfie and accompanied him to the hospital to make sure he got his bi-weekly dialysis. It was his mother, Maria Fe, who contacted the office to ask for help for Alfie, as his income from transporting passengers is not enough to cover his laboratory fees. Phil-health (the government insurance) only covers 90 sessions out of 104 sessions in a year but PSHF can cover the remaining sessions, to make sure Alfie will not skip his dialysis. We also propose to include Epoetin injections twice a month, to treat the associated anaemia. Before we left the Gico residence, I felt that Alfie was encouraged by our visit. I could sense that he was happy that the PSHF team was asking about his condition and whereabouts. Sadly, we have lost quite a few of our dialysis patients over the years and because of this we want to make sure that we are there for Alfie and continue this life-saving assistance as he is now the sole survivor of our dialysis patients.