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Bicol surgeons save sight of 58-year-old man

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay


CABUSAO, Camarines Sur --- A hospital here successfully performed a cornea transplant on a 58-year-old man and the patient is doing well following the surgery.


This achievement by the eye surgeons at the Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center (BRGHGMC) brings hope to individuals suffering from blindness, eye infections, and other corneal diseases.


Digno Mostar of Salvacion from Pamplona, Camarines Sur expressed gratitude to the staff and personnel at BRGHGMC for their support and care before, during, and after his corneal transplant procedure.


“Maogma ako. Nakakahiling na ako nin malinaw kaya dakula ang pasalamat ko sa mga doctor na nag opera sakuya. Ka naka-aging bulan, garo nawawaran na ako nin pag-asa na makaheling, gusto ko ngani tanggapon na dae na talaga ako makakaheling. Pero dahil digdi sa mga yaon digdi sa hospital, tinawan ako nin pag-asa na pwede pa ako ma-opera, na-ogma man ako lalo na kan sabihon na digdi na lang gigibuhon,” Mostar said in vernacular.


(I am happy. My vision is now clear, and I’m very grateful to all the doctors who gave me optimism. Last month, I was losing hope of seeing again. I am ready to accept that I can never regain my sight. But thanks to the people of this hospital (BGHGMC), they gave me hope when they told me I could still undergo surgery. I was happier when I learned that it would be done here.)


The transplant was performed by Dr. Maria Dominga Cecilia Padilla, with Dr. Joanne Barleta–Crosby serving as her first assistant.


The procedure began at 10:50 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, and concluded at around 12:25 p.m.


He was discharged on the next day, Friday, June 21.


Mostar had his first cornea transplant in Manila in 2018.


After four years, he started to experience blurry vision and whitening of his left cornea. His right eye was left totally blind due to measles when he was young.


In June 2022, he experienced eye pain and patchy blind spots until he woke up one day with no vision at all.


“Kan June 2022, bigla nagkulog si mata ko, tapos nag labo. Sarong aldaw lang, pagka-aga, dae na ako nakakaheling. Mapution na talaga. Kan nag pa check- up ako digdi sa ospital (BGHGMC), may nagbalik na kadikit, pero malabao talaga. Nakakaheling ako, pero dae ako nakakabisto, nakakahiling ako ning liwanag lang, pero liwanag lang.”


(In June 2022, I felt a sudden pain in my eye, then my vision became blurry. One day, I woke up and realized I couldn’t see anymore. My vision completely turns white. When I went to the hospital, my vision improved a bit, but it remained blurry. I can see the light, but I couldn’t recognize anything)


Mostar hesitated to go to the hospital due to financial constraints.


Upon learning that a cornea was available for transplant free of charge, he was excited and couldn’t wait for the day of the transplant.


“Na excite ako. Sobra. Gabos na tao sa Geriatrics hospital (BGHGMC), maboboot, kaya lalong nagkusog boot ko (I was really so excited. Everyone at the hospital is kind, that’s why I feel more confident),” a teary-eyed Mostar narrated.


Padilla, also president of the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines, said there was no major concern during the intra-operative stage of the corneal transplant procedure. The patient was wheeled to the recovery room immediately after the operation.


The entire ophthalmology team, together with BGHGMC medical personnel and staff headed by its chief Dr. Ramon Echano Jr., expressed great elation at this milestone and remarkable achievement.


This development will open more doors of opportunities and hope for those suffering from vision problems.


This also highlights BGHGMC’s capacity to provide specialized care to patients as a Level 2 Hospital, specializing in geriatrics and eye care.


Padilla urged the people of Bicol to give hope to patients like Mostar by becoming cornea donors.


“We have been going around various DOH hospitals, private and government-owned facilities to help them establish eye tissue retrieval systems and encourage cornea donors. We are all going to leave this world, why not leave a piece of yourself –a cornea, which is just approximately 0.05 mm thick, to give hope and miracle to someone else,” Padilla said.


BRGHGMC, represented by Echano, and the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines through Padilla established a partnership through a memorandum of agreement signed during the launching of the eye and tissue retrieval program held at BRGHGMC on May 30, 2024.


The 200-bed capacity hospital, located in San Pedro, Cabusao, Camarines Sur, is a Department of Health secondary hospital that provides multi-specialty geriatrics services and mostly caters to elderly patients. (LSM-PIA5/ Camarines Sur)


Dra. Ma. Dominga “Minguita” B. Padilla, MD, FPAO, President of Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines (Eye Bank Foundation) performs the 1st Corneal Transplant Surgery of Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center at San Pedro, Cabusao, Camarines Sur on June 20, 2024. (JRMadrid-PIA5/Camarines Sur)

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