On May 18, 2023, we received a frantic message on our Facebook page from a friend of BJ (not his real name), a 35-year-old male diagnosed with Brown-Sequard Syndrome, a condition where one experiences generalized weakness due to a benign tumor in the spine. The surgeon BJ consulted said the materials needed for the operation would cost PhP 350,000!

BJ comes from a poor family who left him with his grandmother in Surigao, Mindanao when he was in Grade School. For college, he moved to Butuan. Alone in that city, he worked to pay his tuition, lodgings, and other living expenses until he graduated and was gainfully employed. But neither his nor his family’s income could cover the needed amount.

This plea was posted in LST Brain’s chat group and immediately members began to respond … from the Director of PGH himself to a Trustee based in Bicol, to a neurologist from Cagayan de Oro who was attending a convention in Munich at the time. Efforts were made to contact suppliers who could provide the materials at a lower cost. Others contacted their colleagues in the CDO government hospital BJ had been transferred to find out if there was another less expensive way to manage the case. On top of all this was BJ’s attending neurologist in Butuan and Head of the Alumni Patient Welfare Chapter in Agusan del Norte, who kept us posted on developments.

Eventually, a neurosurgeon spine specialist removed the tumor without the need for the expensive materials the other surgeon was going to use. So the financial assistance LST Brain extended amounted to PhP 16,825!

After surgery, the pain in BJ’s neck was manageable and he could already gently squeeze the fingers of his right hand, which he could not do before.


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