Dr Abe V Rotor
National Kidney and Transplant Institute, QC
He stopped schooling after finishing elementary. He was not good in school and his classmates always teased him of being lame. He was born with a club foot. So he became the house keeper while his father and mother went to work, and his brother and sister attended school.
“Please take good care of everything, Gido.” It was Nanay Paring’s way of saying goodbye every morning before going to work. “And don’t forget to eat and take your medicine,” Tatay Gorio would add. Pedring and Trining would ask what their youngest brother Gido would liked them to bring home before boarding their owner’s jeep.
Left alone at home Gido spent hours watching television and playing computer games. He had no companion except his dog, a mongrel, curled under the sofa and yelping only when hungry. “No, Pido, we are not going to cook. We are only two anyway.” He would open a bag of potato or corn chips, or a can of cheese balls, and a family-size soft drinks, and both of them would while their time away until the whole family is reunited at dinner time.
This was the life of Gido day in and out. And who would complain? People with simple life have very little to complain about. Gido’s father and mother were industrious, they were very kind. Pedring and Trining loved him. They gave him playthings, and played with him after school and weekends.
Gido’s eyesight began to fade, so he was fitted with a special pair of eyeglasses, with a grade too high for a boy in his early teens. “Oh, it’s because of too much TV and computer games,” he told himself.
One time his mother was talking to Gido, but he seemed not to be listening. “Gido, Gido,” her mother called. Gido was going deaf. The family doctor also found out that he was losing control of some muscles and nerves. His asthma had gone worse and yet he was fast gaining weight. The doctor prescribed him medicine. “Could it be Parkinson’s disease?” The doctor muttered to himself. It is impossible for a teenager to be a victim. Then the doctor realized his patient had signs of premature aging!
Months later, Gido complained of persistent back pain and he could barely move. The color of his skin lost its pinkish color. True to the suspicion of the doctors he was diagnosed to be suffering of diseased kidneys. There is only one chance for him to live – kidney transplant!
What really caused Gido’s sad condition?
After a long investigation by a university hospital, doctors attributed the boy’s condition to the effects of improper diet and inactive lifestyle. The hospital presented Gido’s case in a forum for medical students. Gido had taken some 5,000 packs potato chips, corn chips, and the like, in a period of three years at the rate of three to four packs per day,! How about noodles? If he consumed, say at the rate of two packs daily, he had taken no less than 2000 packs during the same period. Noodles are known to contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) or Vetsin, which doctors attribute to be the cause of poor development of the brain and muscles. How about carbonated soft drinks? At one family size bottle a day, Gido drank some 1,000 liters during the same period.
What worsened his situation was that Gido did not have enough physical exercise. Cleaning the house was not sufficient. And was not getting the much needed sunlight. He became overweight and soon he became ashamed of himself, and developed a phobia going out and meeting people. How low was his self esteem!
As a writer I met Gido at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute where he had weekly dialysis. I saw his name in the list of candidates waiting for donated kidney. The list was very long and there are few donors. He had been visiting NKTI regularly with Nanay Paring or Tatay Gorio, or with his brother or sister. Sometimes the whole family was with him.
The family prayed hard every evening, instead of watching their favorite TV programs. They prayed that someone was going to donate a kidney for Gido. A month had passed and there was none.
“I’m going to donate one of my kidneys to Gido,” Pedring announced unexpectedly. The family was surprised. They sought advice from NKTI and from many people. They could not decide. Then a certain Dr. Abelardo Imbag who had just completed his specialization in nephrology at John Hopkins University in the US approached the family on knowing the condition of Gido.
“If you allow me, my team and I will do the operation - for free,” he offered. Dr. Imbag grew up on the same street in Tondo where the Fuentes family lived. He had known them even when he was a little boy. He remembered how Gido’s father helped him when he was accidentally bumped by a tricycle. If it were not for Tatay Goring there would be no Dr. Imbag today.
The day of the operation came. Gido and Pedring were brought into the Operating Room. Dr. Imbag and his team worked for hours. Outside the family waited. Time stood still. Nobody spoke. Only the squeak of the swing door would break the silence now and then. It was a sound that would bring the family to their feet or draw their heads towards the Operating Room.
Suddenly the door swung wide open and Dr. Imbag appeared, his face wore a big, big smile. Everyone rejoiced and embraced each other. Both operations were a success.
Months passed. Gido was no longer the house keeper. His mother had retired from her work and devoted her time to the family, Mang Gorio found another job that required him to report only for half a day, and that he also had the whole weekend to spend with the family. Pedring and Trining loved their youngest brother more than before. For Gido and Pedring in particular, people called them “blood brothers” in the true sense of the word because they shared the same organ.
When Trining finished nursing he took care of Gido. He was her first and most special patient. Pedring soon went back to school and finished management, and opened a grocery store at the street corner near their residence.
Gido improved from his failing sight and hearing. There were less and less occasions of asthma attacks. After losing some kilos his friends stopped calling him “Tabachoy,” a local term for overweight. They would tell him he looked ten years younger. Gido was regarded a hero of sort in the neighborhood, especially by those of his age. With a scholarship coming from the university where he was operated on, Gido was able to continue his studies in the same university.
Because of Gido’s case, Dr. Imbag campaigned against malnutrition principally caused by excessive consumption of junk food and softdrinks. When Gido finished law and became a lawyer ten years later, he joined Dr. Imbag, and together put up a foundation, Stop Junk Food Research and Training Center. It was dedicated to the millions of young people all over the world who are victims of this serious problem.
One afternoon while I was writing the biography of Gido I met a young boy sitting on a bench under a tree. He looked robust and happy. He had a bottle of soft drink and a bag of potato chips. At his feet lay a dog curled asleep. I told him the story of Gido. x