A lupus patient’s story of hope with the help of Malasakit Centers

A lupus patient’s story of hope with the help of Malasakit Centers

A native of San Fernando City, Pampanga, Erica Manlutac’s story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact of the Malasakit Centers program, a branchild of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, during times of dire need.

Diagnosed with lupus and a kidney problem stemming from a urinary tract infection at the tender age of 21, Erica’s life took an unexpected turn towards adversity.

“Na-diagnose po ako noong 2018 po. Bago po ‘yun, naramdaman ko po na nagko-collapse po ako sa school, sa church po, sa palengke,” Erica recalled her troubling symptoms, initially dismissed as menstrual cramps, leading to a shocking diagnosis that would change her life forever.

The journey began with a severe urinary tract infection, exacerbated by her frugality and consumption of junk food to save money, which led to her hospitalization. It was then that her condition rapidly deteriorated, necessitating immediate dialysis.

“Na-diagnose po ako noon ng SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) nephritis, ‘yung lupus po na tinatawag. Hindi ko po alam kung ano ‘yung lupus, pero sabi po noong doktor ko noon, internal organ daw po ‘yung tinatamaan,” Erica shared, revealing her battle not just with Lupus but also with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

“Nagkaroon po ako ng depression, anxiety. May times na, ayoko na, suko na ako sabi ko sa mga parents ko, sa mga kapatid ko. Awa po ng Diyos, bumalik po ako sa kanya,” she shared.

Erica found solace and strength in her faith and family, leading to a miraculous turnaround in her health and outlook on life. Her recovery journey was significantly bolstered by the support she received from the Malasakit Center, an initiative spearheaded by Go.

The center at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City provided Erica and her family with much-needed financial assistance for her dialysis treatments, which were burdensome due to their high costs.

“Yung Malasakit Center po kasi malaki po talaga ‘yung naitulong po sa amin bilang mga patient po. ‘Yung dialysis po talaga is mahal po talaga ‘yung gastusin niya. So ang laki po talaga na naitulong po sa amin, sa family ko, sa akin,” Erica expressed her gratitude, highlighting how crucial the initiative has been for her and many others in sustaining their lives amid such challenging circumstances.

“Dahil po sa mga gamot na ‘yun, na parang ‘yun na rin po ‘yung way na nadugtungan pa rin po ‘yung buhay namin as dialysis patients po,” she added.

Malasakit Centers bring together representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. These one-stop shops aim to support impoverished patients in reducing their hospital costs to the least possible amount.

Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program.As of now, 161 Malasakit Centers are operational across the country, poised to assist with patients’ medical expenses. The DOH reports that the Malasakit Center program has already provided aid to more than ten million Filipinos.

Go’s role in establishing and supporting the Malasakit Centers has earned him the nickname “Mr. Malasakit” among beneficiaries like Erica. These centers are praised for their inclusivity and unwavering

support for Filipinos from all walks of life, providing a safety net for those in desperate need of medical assistance.

“Bagay po kay Senator Bong Go na tawaging ‘Mr. Malasakit’ dahil siya po talaga ‘yung may malasakit sa mga taong nangangailangan. Kahit anong mga estado ng buhay nila, ‘pag lumapit po kayo sa kanya, sure po kayo na matutulungan niya po kayo,” Erica said.

“Kung wala pong Malasakit Center, siguro marami na pong kumapit sa patalim para lang madugtungan ‘yung buhay ng pamilya nila,” she further reflected, underscoring the critical role of the centers in the community.

In her message of thanks, Erica lauded Go’s prioritization of patients, especially those undergoing dialysis, and expressed her wishes for his continued commitment and capacity to help more people in need.

“Senator Bong Go, maraming salamat po sa pagtulong niyo po sa amin bilang mga patient po, lalo na sa mga dialysis patient. Talagang pinriority niyo po talaga kami. Sana po huwag po kayong magsawa na tulungan po kami,” she said.

“Pinagpi-pray po namin bigyan po kayo ng malakas pa na pangangatawan at maraming blessings po. Sana po marami pa po kayong matulungan na katulad po namin. Thank you po. God bless,” Erica added.

Go, in response, reaffirmed his commitment to the Filipino people. “Handa po akong magserbisyo sa inyo sa abot ng aking makakaya dahil bisyo ko na ang magserbisyo sa inyong lahat. Magta-trabaho po ako para sa Pilipino,” he stated, echoing his dedication to public service and the well-being of his constituents.

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