This was the message of Ferdinand Subido of Davao City when I interviewed him in his residence during PhilHealth’s Z benefits field validation in Region XI. Sir Nandie, as he wants to be called, is a Lifetime Member and the third patient in Davao City who had availed of Z benefits for kidney transplantation.
“God only does things when the time comes, when He likes to do it. Everything is just in place accordingly, walang rush, walang nagpanic. The study was done, PhilHealth benefits already in place and I was prepared for the operation,” said Sir Nandie.
As a Rotary Club Team Leader, Sir Nandie had the opportunity to travel to the US. Due to the travel requirements, specifically the laboratory exams, he made it a habit to have a check-up regularly. In 2002, he noticed that his creatinine level went up to 120-175 but did not take it seriously. Creatinine is a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism. Elevated creatinine level signifies impaired kidney function or kidney disease. Abnormally high levels of creatinine thus warn of possible malfunction or failure of the kidneys.
It took years before he seriously gave attention to his health and decided to have a lifestyle change -he was already 235 pounds then. The move seemed to have worked because his creatinine level did not abruptly shoot up. It also helped that he decided not to drink alcohol anymore since 2004. “Before, I drank like a fish,” he added.
He was diagnosed with end stage renal disease in 2012. He thought that he was really in bad shape when during one of his check-ups, his doctor said that he needed to have a fistula. Hemodialysis was never an option at that time.
“I had a high school classmate who had undergone hemodialysis three times a week and I saw how he suffered,” he said. “If it was my time to go, I might as well look good,” he said with a hearty laugh.
PhilHealth launched the Z Benefits in 2012, the time when Sir Nandie’s health was deteriorating. His family urged him to have a kidney transplantation and he was very thankful to them; two of his siblings offered him their kidneys.
He went to several doctors both in Davao and in Manila but was not convinced yet to have a kidney transplantation, until he talked to Dr. Benjamin Balmores Jr., a nephrologist whose wife is a family friend, and Dr. Leopoldo Vega, the Medical Center Chief of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). On June 16, 2013, a day after his mom’s birthday celebration, the procedure was carried out at SPMC.
Although he underwent a series of laboratory tests as compliance to the pre-authorization requirements in availing himself of the Z Benefits for the kidney transplantation, he was really happy about it because of the assurance that he will be given a new lease in life.
“Nakatulong sa peace of mind ko ang sinabi ni Dr. Vega, alam ko na may tutulong sa akin. I presumed 600 thousand ang cost ng operation dahil wala na kaming pinag-uusapan (ng mga duktor). Pumasok ako (sa ospital) na walang iniisip tungkol sa pera. Though may advance na ni-require ang ospital, all the rest hindi ko na iniisip dahil inasikaso na ng PhilHealth,” he said.
His operation had complications and a corrective operation was done. Thankfully, the said follow -through is still covered by the Z benefits. “Maganda ang tulong ng Z package. Peace of mind talaga. Pagpasok mo, alam mo na, maaasikaso ka. At ang SPMC, they make the place conducive to patient’s recovery. Feel good talaga,” he added.
“Biased” is his profound word for PhilHealth. “Everytime I hear of PhilHealth, biased ako dahil sa Z benefits. Also, it was not my first time to avail of the benefits since I was confined thrice and only paid one or two thousand pesos for my confinements.” narrated Sir Nandie.
“Sa PhilHealth, maraming maraming salamat. Thank you very much for thinking of others because the problem of kidney or renal failure for me is the number one illness in the country today which affects everyone regardless of status, rich or poor,” he said.
Since PhilHealth launched the Z Benefits for kidney transplantation in 2012, a total of 165 patients nationwide have already availed themselves of the package as of September 2014 with P98,100,000 as benefit payment for the said package.
The package costs P600,000.00 and covers cardiology clearance for the donor (if indicated) and the recipient, pre-transplant evaluation/laboratory exams (Phases1, 2, 3 and 4) for donor and recipient candidates, transplantation surgery with living donor or deceased donor, hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis during admission for transplantation (if indicated), immunosuppressant induction therapy (unless identical twin or zero HLA-antigen mismatch), immunologic risk (zero to 1 HLA mismatch between donor and recipient), primary kidney transplant, single organ transplant, PRA class 1 and 2 negative or PRA ‹20%, immunosuppression, induction therapies and anti-rejection therapy (if indicated).
To date, the Z Benefits for Kidney Trasplantation may be availed of at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Davao Regional Hospital, Southern Philippines Medical Center and Northern Mindanao Medical Center.(Pinky Gemeniano-Aragones)