Im­pov­er­ished Philip­pine teenager to have life-sav­ing surgery in Su­dan

The China Post - - SPORTS -

An im­pov­er­ished Philip­pine farmer’s teenage son will fly to Su­dan next week for po­ten­tially life-sav­ing open heart surgery thanks to an Os­car-nom­i­nated film and an Ital­ian char­ity, his sis­ter said Fri­day.

Rey­naldo Nilo, 17, will head to Khar­toum on Mon­day for the free treat­ment at a hos­pi­tal run by EMER­GENCY, an Ital­ian doc­tors group, to ar­rest the on­set of rheumatic heart dis­ease, sis­ter Sarah Joy Nilo said.

“The car­di­ol­o­gist said surgery was ur­gently needed, oth­er­wise the valves would de­te­ri­o­rate and cease to func­tion,” she told AFP.

“The treat­ment is lo­cally avail­able, but he was among a long list of char­ity pa­tients and we did not know when he would get his turn.”

She said it cost 1.6 mil­lion pe­sos (US$35,600) at other lo­cal hos­pi­tals, a sum the fam­ily, which raises ducks for a living, can not af­ford.

“We’d lost al­most all hope un­til we were in­tro­duced to this foun­da­tion.”

EMER­GENCY, which works in 16 dis­as­ter and war-torn na­tions, said its car­diac hos­pi­tal near the Su­danese cap­i­tal Khar­toum was the only one of its kind in Africa where pa­tients were treated for free.

U.S. direc­tor Kief David­son went to Khar­toum five years ago to film “Open Heart,” a doc­u­men­tary about eight Rwan­dan boys who were treated at EMER­GENCY’s Su­dan hos­pi­tal.

The film, which re­ceived an Os­car nom­i­na­tion, was seen by the Filipino teen’s sis­ter on tele­vi­sion last year, re­viv­ing the fam­ily’s flag­ging hopes.

“She rec­og­nized that the con­di­tion de­scribed was the same as her brother’s, waited for the cred­its and then tracked the pro­ducer Cori Stern down with a one-line email. ‘My brother has this, please help,’” the state­ment said.

Stern, an Amer­i­can, en­dorsed the Nilo sis­ter to the aid group, which agreed to pro­vide ei­ther par­tial or to­tal re­place­ment of the teen’s heart valves.

The group said it would also pay for other re­quired med­i­ca­tions for the rest of his life, adding he would likely die within a few years with­out the op­er­a­tion.

“Rey­naldo had strep throat as a child, which if not treated with an­tibi­otics can lead to a rheumatic heart dis­ease that usu­ally leaves young adults dead by 20,” it said in a state­ment.

The sis­ter, 25, said her brother was di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease two years ago.

He be­came bedrid­den and was un­able to fin­ish his high school stud­ies, while also re­quir­ing his sis­ter to take care of him full time.

EMER­GENCY said the sib­lings would be flown to Khar­toum for free by Turk­ish Air­lines.

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