by Pedro D. Abella
Danilo Espiritu was 67 years old when he was diagnosed at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) of having blocked arteries and needed to undergo a quadruple bypass procedure. He was experiencing chest pains and had difficulty breathing even after walking for just a few steps. He was informed by the doctor that the heart operation will cost around P600,000 to P1M.
A salesman by profession, Espiritu needed this operation to have a second chance in life, but the amount was way beyond his reach. Other options were desperately considered, such as finding another hospital and other doctors, but the amount just kept getting higher. To raise the needed money, they sought help from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, his wife borrowed from the Government Service Insurance System, sought financial assistance from relatives, and friends, but the total amount collected was still far from what was required. He even visited the Mt. Carmel Church in Lipa City, hoping to receive blessings for his condition. He prayed hard for him to surpass his ordeal and be able to live for more years in the comfort of his loving family.
With luck on Espiritu’s side, the doctor at the PHC found out that his wife is a PhilHealth member and that he might be able to receive medical benefits for his heart condition through the PhilHealth Z Benefits. Hospital personnel provided him with a check list of requirements for them to comply with. The social worker in their area helped him with the needed prescribed documents from their Local Government Unit in Pasay City, and PhilHealth personnel assisted him as well. Required documents were finally completed for him to undergo the Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery procedure.
Three months after he was first diagnosed, Espiritu went through a six-hour heart operation on July 2, 2015 at the PHC. He woke up the following day to see his family looking at him through an Intensive Care Unit window with wide, happy faces.
While Espiritu was earlier informed that three heart operations are being done in a day with 90% success rate, he still could not believe that he lived through the operation. He also found out that even if the 24 firefighters who tried to donate blood for him were rejected due to several reasons, 12 of his daughter’s 16 students were able to do so. Seven days later, he was discharged from the hospital with medical prescriptions, and was instructed to return on prescribed dates for removal of stitches, including a 14-day observation period and rehabilitation exercises at the PHC Rehab Center. He did not pay a single centavo when he was considered as a beneficiary for the said procedure.
Today, he is grateful to PhilHealth for the Z benefits that provided him a free operation for his heart at the PHC. The money his family got was used for post-operation expenses. Espiritu lives with his loving wife and children in Pasay City.