Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Every month Cris Ann Desamparado (11) is in hospital, specifically the regional hospital in Bacolod, for a blood transfusion in order to raise her haemoglobin level to a normal range. Four years ago she underwent a series of blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy and was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia. This is a blood disorder in which the body's bone marrow doesn't make enough red and white blood cells as well as platelets.

Cris Ann needs an average of four bags of blood for her monthly transfusions. At 500 pesos per bag, her parents must have at least 2,000 pesos each month to pay her medical bill. For her father, Crispin, this is a steep amount to raise because his only source of living is by carrying passengers on a trisikad (a pedal taxi), and his income is just enough for basic necessities.

It was three years ago when the PSHF started helping the parents of Cris Ann pay the cost of her transfusions. Actually it is not just Cris Ann who has been helped. There’s also eight-year-old Romel Tortogo who is also afflicted with a blood disorder called Pure Red Cell Aplasia. This is a type of anemia in which the bone marrow ceases to produce red blood cells. Romel has been receiving blood transfusions each month since he was only a year old. Incidentally he and Cris Ann became friends because they often have their transfusion sessions at the same time.

For many years now, in addition to its livelihood assistance program, the PSHF helps cover the medical costs of seriously ill children like Cris Ann and Romel. Most of these children come from very poor families. Romel’s parents, for example, earn a living from working in the sugarcane plantations. With no financial assistance, they doubt that they can sustain the medical treatment of their child.

Meanwhile Cris Ann seems to respond well to her treatment. Aside from her unusually dark skin which is brought about by her illness, she is living a normal life. She likes going to school, dresses smartly and plays a lot with her friends. She is confident, is social and smiles a lot. She would like to visit Romel in his parents’ place someday and Romel would also like to do the same.

We are inspired by the determination of these children to rise above their illness as well as the devotion and perseverance of their parents to enable their children to lead a normal life as much as possible.