Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Alfie Gico’s malady started four years ago after he went to Dubai to work in a factory which produced envelopes for export to other Middle East countries. During his time in Dubai, he was often bothered by arthritis and would take pain relievers. In January 2016, when the pain in his knees was becoming debilitating, he went to see a doctor. He was in great shock when a nephrologist diagnosed him with chronic kidney disease stage 5 and put him onto emergency dialysis treatment. Since then he has been undergoing twice-weekly dialysis.

It took a month or so for Alfie (34) to accept and adjust to his circumstances. The dialysis procedure hurt a lot in the beginning but eventually he got used to it. It helps that the dialysis room is quiet and has a pleasant atmosphere, has comfortable chairs with its own television and headphones. The nurses move about quietly from one dialysis machine to another to check on the patients. The only sound that one can hear is the steady hum of the machines.

The dialysis patients keep to the same schedule each week so they see usually the same people each week. Alfie’s dialysis days are Tuesdays and Fridays. On these days he wakes up at the crack of dawn to cook his breakfast, prepare his ‘baon’ or packed lunch and have a shower. A dialysis session lasts for four hours and so his ‘baon’ of rice and fish comes in handy. On weekends, he rides a tricycle (a motorcycle with a sidecar for taking passengers), the income from which he uses for fares to the dialysis centre and to buy his maintenance medicines.

Alfie is again seeking help from the PSHF for his dialysis injections. Last year he relied on the PCSO's (Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office) medical assistance program for his Epoetin injections. (Epoetin is being used to treat anaemia in patients particularly those on kidney dialysis.) Each month he would get a guarantee letter from the PCSO and present it to the dialysis centre. This year however due to the increasing number of individuals asking for help, medical assistance has been curtailed. The injections cost 1,000 pesos each and Alfie needs a total of 104 in one year. The PCSO is providing only 72 this year unlike last year when they gave 90. We would like to help Alfie by providing a grant of 40,000 pesos; 80 per cent of which will pay for his injections until the end of the year and the balance of 8,000 pesos will be used to buy his dialyser which is replaced every month.

Alfie comes from a poor family; Alberto (61), his father, is a tricycle driver like him. His income of 1,000 pesos a week is just enough for food. Maria Fe (55), his mother, works as a housemaid in Manila and receives a monthly salary of 4,000 pesos ($80), most of which she sends to Alfie for his dialysis expenses. The other children in the family are just as poor and have their own families to support.

Maria Fe and Alberto are most grateful to the PSHF for this life-saving assistance to their son.

Bernadette G. Togado

PSHF Bacolod

August 2019