New Liver, New Life

What makes one a hero? Some may say it’s about the super powers, the super cool (or sometimes lame) costumes, the fancy gadgets or the cheesy hero names. 

Some may even say that it's about the age, the gender and the physical capabilities of a person.

But you know what? I say it’s about the heart--the heart to give.As cliché as it may sound, I do believe that no one’s too old nor too young to be able to save lives. 

Maybe it was God’s will that, Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet this beautiful lady who needed all the help she could get. I promised her that I would help, not because I have to, but because I want to...

and that I could.
Actually, WE all could.

 She’s 23 and beautiful.  And when I met her for the first time, she reminded me much of my own sister.  The only difference is that my sister wasn’t battling a life-or-death situation.

Her name is Joyce, or Ate Joyce, as I call her, and she was born without a gallbladder (or in medical terms, you call her case “Biliary Artresia”).  Almost 3 months after her birth, she underwent a major operation called "Kasai Procedure". The operation was successful, and that allowed her to live normally- but not until she turned nineteen. 

It was found out that after the Kasai procedure, she had developed a very serious  "Cirrhosis of the Liver"  (scarring of the liver) . Her normal flow of blood was blocked. She experienced bloating, yellowing of the skin (jaundice), and development of the gallstone. She was brought to the hospital every now and then, and she became very susceptible to infections. 

Me: Ate Lindy (Ate Joyce's sister) , what was life like before all of these started happening? 

Ate Lindy: “Lagi kaming lumalabas dati. Sobrang active namin! Mahilig kami mag swimming at track-and-field dati. Tas si Joyce, highschool volleyball player pa nun eh! Pero ngayon, di na kaya ni Joyce maging active masyado kasi madali na siyang mapagod. ”

[Lindy: We used to go out a lot. We were so active back then! We loved swimming and running. Joyce was actually a volleyball varsity player back in highschool! But now, things aren't the way it used to be . Joyce isn't able to do much activities nowadays. ]

Ate Lindy told me lots of stories of their teenage days.  She told me that she and her sister were partners-in-crime. They went to places together. They dreamed together. They “made takas” together. They shared secrets and stories. They were everywhere.

 They almost thought that, together, they could rule the world. But Ate Joyce’s health prevented them from doing so...

 On her 4th year in college, Ate Joyce reluctantly decided to stop schooling.

Ang rami niyang nilipatan na schools. Kailangan niyang mag transfer ng mag transfer kasi hindi maganda attendance niya. Lagi kasi siyang na-hohospital. Finally, nadecide narin naming na mag-stop na siya kasi hindi rin magandang nase-stress siya, diba?”, ate Lindy said.
["She had to transfer to many colleges, because she had poor attendance. This was because she kept on going in and out of the hospital. Finally, we decided to let her stop schooling since stress isn't good for her.", said Lindy]

“Sayang, no? Isang year na lang! Sobrang lapit na sana. ”, added ate Joyce.
[ "I had a year left, and I didn't get to finish it. I was THIS close from graduating.", added Joyce.]

Check-ups. Confinements. Procedures. Operations. Medications. 

Ate Joyce encountered a lot of these.

She's grown sick and tired of always being brought to the hospital.

But there's this one operation that would finally put a stop to all of these. An operation that would change her life forever: a liver transplant. 

Me: What will happen once she undergoes liver transplant?
Ate Lindy: “Pag naliver transplant na si Joyce, magiging normal na siya. Puro peklat na kasi yung liver niya, kaya kailangan palitan. Mawawala ang kanyang pagka-yellow. Mawawala ang kanyang paghihirap. Pag magkaroon siya ng bagong liver, magkakaroon na rin siya ng panibagong buhay.” 
[Lindy: If she gets a liver transplant, then she'd live a normal life. Her liver's full of scars, that's why she needs a new one. Once she gets a transplant, the yellowing of her skin will be gone. All her hardships would vanish. If she gets a new liver, then she'll live a new life.]

They decided to have the liver transplant done at the Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, where there has been a very high success rate for Living Donor Liver transplant. The doctor estimated the cost of the transplant to be around 12 Million Pesos. 

Ate Joyce and her family couldn't afford this large sum of money, for they have already exhausted all their funds for hospital bills.

But in order for ate Joyce to survive, she would need to have a liver transplant (yes, NEED).

No matter how "unreachable" you may think 12 million is, we think so otherwise, because we believe that we have a Great God- A father, a provider and a supporter. 

This is a walk of faith.

And I believe that we all could walk this journey with Ate Joyce and the Pimentel family!

So, are you game with me? LET'S DO THIS.

How, you ask me??

Three words: AID FOR JOYCE.

Me: Who thought of this Aid For Joyce Campaign? 

Ate Lindy: “Si Macy ung nagisip ng campaign na ito. Actually, hindi namin relative si Macy. Sobrang layo nga ng connection namin, eh. May common friends kami- yun lang. Unexpected nga kasi, out of the blue, nagmessage siya samin na gusto niyang tulungan si joyce. We never met her personally at first. So kami siyempre, game, basta matulungan lang si Joyce. Sobrang bait nila. As in sobra talaga. Willing silang lahat ng mga friends niya mag help . Sobrang nakaka-touch kasi ang bilis nilang gumawa ng actions. Nakita nalang namin nagtayo sila ng jar for donations at nag post sa bulletin ng Moonleaf. Grabe nga eh, kasi kung sino pa ang mga hindi namin kaclose, sila pa ung umeffort na ganito.”    
[Lindy: Macy was the one who thought of starting this campaign. Actually, Macy isn't a relative of ours. She's not even a close friend of ours. We just had common friends- that's all. We never even met her personally before!  It was unexpected, because she texted me out of the blue, saying that she wanted to help Joyce. She and her friends were so kind. AS IN, REALLY KIND. They were all willing to help! It was really touching because they really gave their all in helping. We were surprised when we saw that they put up donation jars and put up posters on bulletins. It's really ironic that the people who aren't even close to us are the people who exerted the most effort. ]

*There are donation jars located at Moonleaf Don Antonio, Moonleaf Sgt Esguerra, Icebergs Timog, ang Glam Nails & Skin Spa at Sgt Esguerra. 

Any amount of financial help is welcomed.
C'mon, guys. 

150 pesos won't hurt, right? If you could sacrifice one day without buying a cup of coffee, and instead, just donate it to someone who needs it a lot, then you would make such a huge difference.

20 pesos won't hurt, right? If you could walk to your house rather than spending the 20 bucks on tricycle fee, then you could help save a life.

10 pesos won't hurt, right? Sacrifice a day without buying a stick of isaw or some street food. Donate it, and you could help someone who needs a liver transplant.

My point is that any amount will make a difference.


....And so does every second ticking away.

Share this to your friends and family! The Pimentel family needs all the help they could get!

If you'd like to donate one time big time, you could also deposit in the ff bank accounts: 

Bank account: Banco de Oro – Diliman Capitol Hills Branch
Account name: Joyce Anne Pimentel
Account no. (Peso): 3920023875

Bank account: Banco de Oro – SM City Fairview Branch
Account name: Corazon de Jesus Pimentel
Account no. (Peso): 1270940579

Bank account: Banco de Oro – SM City Fairview Branch
Account name: Corazon de Jesus Pimentel
Account no. (USD): 101270539688

You may also reach the following, in case of any helpful information or inquiries/comments:

Cora Pimentel (her mom): / +63917-8514220/ +63916-5539025
Dr. Wilfredo Polido Jr. (her attending physician): 0917-7953861

Me: What will happen po once you reach 12 million pesos?
Ate Lindy: “We will go to Singapore ASAP. Perfect ang status ni Joyce ngayon. She’s ideal for operation,  habang di pa siya bedridden or habang walang dumadagdag na complication. Kaya sana maka-ipon na kami ng 12 million ASAP para ma-operahan na siya, habang wala pa talaga siyang complications. Mahirap kasi mag opera kapag malala ang status mo. Kaya dapat ngayon na. Actually, brother niya ang magdodonate ng liver, kaya dapat talaga maging successful ang operation. Kasi, dalawang buhay ang naka-salalay dito eh. Sa Singapore ang pinaka malapit na hospital na may high rates ng successful liver transplants."
[Lindy: We will go to Singapore ASAP. Joyce's status is perfect, as of the moment. She's ideal for operation, while she's not yet bedridden or while complications aren't adding up yet. We have to have her operated while her status isn't worsening. It's hard to have a person operated if he/she has complications. Actually, her brother will be the one to donate the liver. That means that there are two lives are at stake. Singapore is the nearest hospital that offers  high rates of successful liver transplants. ]


Me: "Ate Joyce, I admire you for being so strong and determined. What keeps you holding on?"

Ate Joyce: “Ung totoo naman talaga is, siyempre gusto kong mabuhay ng matagal. Marami akong pangarap sa buhay at gusto kong makamit ang mga iyon. Gusto ko rin makatulong sa mga taong may case ko. Naniniwala akong mabuti and Diyos at kakayanin ko to.”
[Joyce: Well, the truth is, of course, that I want to live longer. I have a lot of dreams that I'd like to fulfill. I also want to be able to help others who have the same case as I have. I believe that the Lord is good, and that He would help me surpass these challenges.]

Me: "Ate Joyce, if you were given a chance to say something to the readers right now, what would you say?

Ate Joyce: “Sana matulungan niyo ako. Gusto ko talagang mabuhay ng matagal.”
[Joyce: I hope that you could help me. I want to live longer.]

Ate Joyce then gave a quick sigh. She sat there, all quiet, looking at her ate Lindy to help her find words.

Her sister then said, 

“Sabi ng mama ko na ang tagal na namin itong pinaghirapan, so why give up now diba? Ang dream talaga ni Joyce ay ang maka-work. Pero di siya maka work dahil di siya maka graduate, kasi she had to stop schooling. Hindi rin siya makahanap ng career kasi nahihiya siya sa kung ano mga iisipin ng mga tao dahil kulay yellow siya. Nasasawa siya na pag aalis, dapat laging naka shades para lang matago ung pangingilaw ng mata niya. Gusto niya ng normal life, yun lang. Sa age niya ngayon, eto dapat yung stage na magsastart na siyang gumawa ng sariling buhay, pero di niya pa kayang gawin yun. Madali siyang mapagod. Hindi kaya ng katawan niyang mag engage sa maraming activities, pero gusto niya talagang makapag contribute sa family. Gusto niyang mag travel around the world.  Kaya nga tourism ang course niya dati, kasi gusto niya talaga maging flight attendant. Nireject nga siya ng isang airline dati kasi yellow daw eyes niya. Ang rami talagang sagabal sa pag-fulfill ng dreams niya.Sana matulungan kami, kasi average family lang kami. Di namin kaya ang 12 million pesos. Sana buksan niyo hearts niyo para matulungan niyo kami. Thank you. Gusto ko talagang matupad mga pangarap ng mga kapatid ko.”  
[my mother told me that we've been fighting for this for so long, so why give up now, right? Joyce has always dreamt of being able to work. But she can't work because she wasn't able to finish her studies. She can't get a career because she's shy that people might judge her because of her yellow skin color. She gets sick of having to put on shades to cover the yellowness of her eyes- everyday. She wants to live a normal life, that's all. At her age right now, that's the age that she should be able to start her own life, but she isn't able to do so yet. She gets tired easily. Her body can't take it when she engages in so much activities, but she wants to help her family. She wants to travel around the world. She has always wanted to be a flight attendant- that's why tourism was her course in college. But she got rejected by an airline because of the yellowness of her eyes. There are plenty of reasons that stop Joyce from achieving her dreams. I hope that people would be able to help us, because we're just an average family- we can't afford 12 million pesos. I hope that people would be able to open their hearts to help us. Thank you. I want my sister's dreams to come true.]

@ Moonleaf Don Antonio
(L-R) Sir Vincent, Sir Jian, Jeh, Ate Lindy, Ate Joyce, Me

(L-R): Ate Lindy, me and Ate Joyce
During my interview with Ate Joyce (shot  @ Moonleaf Don Antonio)

Ate Joyce is a beautiful woman with a beautiful smile. Just like every other girl out there, she loves to laugh; she likes singing on the karaoke; she collects Hello Kitty cellphone cases; she adores dogs; she loves taking photos; she enjoys dressing up; she loves, she hopes, and she dreams.

She's courageous, cheerful, and optimistic- and that's what I admire about her.  In fact, while we were having this interview, I didn't even see her cry, mope or do any of the typical-ala-soap-opera-paawa-moves. 

She had a smile on her face, because SHE HAD HOPE.

And I encourage her to continue hoping, because I know that all things work together for good.

Jaundice (yellowing of skin)


The medicines Ate Joyce takes

Rocking my new Aid For Joyce shirt!! :)

(for inquiries on this event, you may send a PM to miss Lindy Pimentel)

Be a hero today! :)

Are you ready to help save a life?
You could 
* buy the aid for joyce shirt
* go to their fund raising events
*donate any amount of money
*pray for her
*share this post and let it be known to many!