Project Stories:

World Heart Day - A Heart and a heart valve for Regie

A blessing in disguise

by Heike Knauff-Oliver,  2019/09/30

This story is about Regie, a sick boy of the Philippines; Dr. Michael Brinkmann and a humedica intervention in the South-East Asian country after the hurricane "Haiyan".

Dr. Michael Brinkmann during his mission in the Philippines. Photo: humedica

Regie lives with his parents and four siblings in a small village of about 60 inhabitants near the capital Tacloban in the province of Leyte. The main breadwinner of the family is his father, who earns the equivalent of about three Euro a day as a construction worker on a daily basis. His mother works in the fields and takes care of the children. When he was 14 years old, Regie came down with a purulent strep throat. There was no medical treatment available in the village and the family did not have enough money to pay the fee for a practitioner´s treatment. Thus the sore throat turned into a swiftly progressing endocarditis. Regie got weaker and weaker, but there was no help in sight.

To make things even worse, in November 2013 a terrible typhoon called "Haiyan" hit the country and left destruction and many victims in his trail. , But, thanks to God, also a humedica medical team set off for an emergency intervention in Tacloban.

„We were busy running a mobile clinic in the partly destroyed sports hall of a village“, Dr. Michael Brinkmann recalls the intervention. „Then Regie arrived with his mother. She was quite timid and apologized for consulting us with her son, although his illness was not caused by the typhoon. Regie could only breath with great difficulty, he was barely able to walk assisted by his mother. She told us that he has been getting worse and worse for six months now, that he was no longer able to play soccer with his friends or to attend school. I diagnosed a suspected endocarditis and promised to take care of him.“

Regie and his mother when meeting humedica practitioner Brinkmann for the first time in 2013. Photo: humedica

Dr. Brinkmann is a wholehearted physician. He takes his promise seriously. Even if it is difficult to keep it in a village without electricity and telephone. Together with the humedica coordinators he organizes the next steps. The initial idea to bring Regie to Germany to have him operated there failed, because he was not fit enough for transport. After some back and forth a very good hospital in Manila is found. But the treatment costs are high. Thanks to many donators from Dr. Brinkmann´s private and professional circle enough money can be raised. A retired couple donates a substantial amount: „Thus we can give the youth a new future“, they say. 150 Pesos (2,63 Euro) daily – nearly the pay for a whole day´s work – the parents themselves contribute to enable the treatment. The mother has started to work in the school canteen to pay for Regie´s medicaments. Donation funds from the humedica casework cover the missing amount, transport costs as well as the follow-up treatment. nommen.

Regie´s heart was already severely damaged by the endocarditis. Photo: humedica

Regie has recovered speedily from the operation. Now he is 20 years old. He was able to finish school and to take up studies thanks to a government scholarship. In a letter to Dr. Brinkmann he expresses his deeply felt gratitude. He, too, wants to spend his new life helping other people.

Regie thanks his lifesaver in a letter. Photo: humedica

„After the intervention in the Phillipines we continued to take medical care of six other children. Three of them were particularly ill like Regie“, explains the responsible humedica case manager Andrea Trautmann. „Many people helped and made it possible to provide these children successfully with medical treatment.”

„It is a fact that Regie would not have survived without this treatment“, Dr. Brinkmann is convinced. „Getting to know so many destinies during an intervention, time and again it is very special to find a solution for someone like Regie. Everyone has to answer the question for himself, whether you should help individuals after a disaster. I have done so already… The engagement for Regie clearly transgressed the limits of the humedica casework funds. Therefore I voluntarily raised additional donations. Regie and his family now have new prospects of life. That was and is worth the committment“, says the physician, who is glad that he was able to help against all odds.

Six years afterwards Regie is able to lead a normal life thanks to the operation. Photo: humedica

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