Suba Boy Arrives L.A. for Open Heart Surgery

Fri, November 16, 2007  5:38 am

20071116053855965_1.jpgAnother DAUSA protégé, 9-year old Keith Casas Montesuso of Suba, Danao City, finally arrived Los Angeles on Friday, November 9, 2007, after over a year of waiting for a life saving and urgently needed open heart surgery.

On the last day of the DAUSA Medical Mission on September 2006, a father pushing a stroller carrying a frail and bluish 8-year old boy showed up at Danao District Hospital asking to see a DAUSA doctor. He was referred to Dr. Anita Cal-Jackson, Chief of Medical Mission.

Mr. Archie Montesuso showed to Dr. Jackons his son’s medical records indicating congenital heart defects known as pentalogy of fallot, as diagnosed by a pediatric cardiologist from Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City.

(Keith (center) with host family in Los Angeles)

According to the boy’s dad, Keith was in and out of hospital due to heart failure caused by exertion or infection. He also said that the cardiologist at Perpetual Succor Hospital, had explained to him it would cost over a million peso for the hospital to perform the very delicate procedure.

Being unemployed at the time, it was impossible for Keith’s parents to come up with that amount. Their only hope was DAUSA, the father said.

Dr. Jackson requested all the medical records of Keith and upon her return to California forwarded them with an urgent appeal to Mending Kids International to help save the life of Keith.

Seeing the urgency of Keith’s heart condition, Cris Embleton, Executive Director of Mending Kids International (MKI), immediately negotiated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to do the surgery.

Cedars-Sinai through its International Children’s Surgery Fund agreed to cover all medical expenses during the pre-operative evaluation and hospitalization and sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy regarding its acceptance. With Cedars’ confirmation, Keith and his father got a U.S. visa.

Keith got a free plane ticket from PAL Foundation through its Executive Director, Menchu Sarmiento while DAUSA shouldered the surcharges and Archie’s Cebu-Manila-Cebu ticket.

Also, Ms. Sarmiento helped find host family, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Ong, the Good Samaritans who volunteered to welcome Keith to their home in Los Angeles. Mr. Ong also took responsibility in bringing the boy to his medical appointments.

Keith had his first preoperative evaluation at Cedars Sinai last Monday. However, with Keith’s very delicate condition, the host family contacted Dr. Jackson and Marieta Palos, explaining that the presence of his father is vital to his adjustment to a new place.

Mr. Ong and his family do not speak Cebuano and had difficulty in communicating with Keith who missed so much his family in Danao. So, DAUSA arranged for the travel of his father Archie to Los Angeles arriving Friday, November 16.

Meanwhile, the other DAUSA protégé, Merylou Barriga, who arrived Los Angeles on May 27, 2007, just underwent a 12-hr cranio-facial surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, last Thursday, November 8. Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles assembled a team of 9 specialists to perform Merylou’s extremely delicate cranio-facial surgery.

According to Dr. Mark Urata (the lead pllastic surgeon), Merylou’s progress is doing very well. She had been transferred from the ICU yesterday and is off from oxygen support.


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