Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pinay nurse in UAE seeks help for leukemia-stricken hubby

“I’m counting on Good Samaritans to give my husband a new lease [on his] life," a Filipina nurse in the United Arab Emirates, who is raising Dh300,000 (P3.587 million) for her leukemia-stricken husband, said.

Teresa Galang Lareza's husband Arthur, 37, an IT technician, is being treated for acute myelo leukemia (AML) at Rashid Hospital where she works.

“My heart aches for him," she said in an interview posted on the UAE news site. “We have no choice but to appeal for help. We can't pay for the treatment by ourselves."

She could not look after him herself because it is her job to attend to other sick patients at the hospital.

She also said she had to put up a brave face in front of her two children — aged 1 and 7 — because she does not want them to know of their father's condition is serious.

On Nov. 5, Arthur underwent his first of two chemotherapies, buying him time by keeping the blood cancer at bay.

His fever subsided and he was temporarily discharged. But lab test results following a bone marrow aspiration showed he belonged to a high-risk group. The procedure consists of removing a small amount of bone marrow — usually from the hip — using a syringe to diagnose and follow the progress of various medical conditions, including anemia and cancer.

Consultant physician and hematologist, Dr. Mahmoud Al Marashi, said allogeneic stem cell transplant is “highly recommended," referring to the procedure for bone marrow transplant whose donor is not related to the patient.

Arthur's health insurance does not cover the Dh300,000 procedure.

Teresa, now her family’s sole bread-winner, earns just enough to repay a bank loan and keep the house running.

She added their family budget is so tight now that the banks are chasing her for repayment of personal loans.

The Larezas are now thinking of selling their house in the Philippines.

“We have lost all our savings. I don’t know what to do, but I am positive… Please help my husband," she said.

Teresa, who has been working as a nurse at Rashid Hospital since 2007, once worked at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Nueva Ecija.

She said she knows at least two people in Dubai who are now leading normal lives after successful bone marrow transplants.

“Arthur has no known family history of cancer. His doctors said bone marrow transplant is his last hope," she said.

The Gulf News report said doctors at St. Luke's Hospital have found a matching bone marrow donor in Arthur’s younger sister Annalyn, 30.

“The prognosis for Arthur is good. He's still young and healthy. He can tolerate the transplant procedure. Survival rate is high if treatment is done earlier. If we find a matching blood donor, we plan to have the transplant in Vellore, India or Manila," said Teresa.

But she admitted that even if they get the maximum discount, they still cannot afford the full cost of the operation with their meagre resources. – MRT/VS, GMA News Online

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