Cebu City’s traffic chief and candidate for city councilor Sylvan “Jack” Jakosalem is slowly recovering after undergoing delicate “life saving surgery” to remove parasites from his brain, said his doctor.
The 49-year-old former councilor remains in the Intensive Care Unit of a private hospital in Cebu City.
His wife, Sharon, sister Lorna and attending physician Dr. Toom Vatanagul appeared in a press conference yesterday to give updates on his health.
“Presently, Jack shows slow but remarkable recovery. We have to extend our patience,” said Vatanagul.
Vatanagul said the chairman of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) has been conscious in the last few days, and can do simple gestures like frown and squeeze back someone’s hand in response.
He said Jakosalem will undergo physical therapy for a month to help him sit up and strengthen his muscles.
“I would like to appeal on the family’s behalf. I have seen a great family taking care of jack. I would like to appeal to the people to give the Jakosalem family the privacy they need,” said Dr. Vatanagul.
Jakosalem is a candidate for Cebu city councilor in the north district under Team Rama.
Under election rules, a political party has under Dec. 21 to substitute a candidate who is unable to proceed with his candidacy.
Mayor Rama said in a separate interview that he will answer questions about Jakosalem’s candidacy in due time.
But Rama said that if the Citom chief is not available, he would prefer that another Jakosalem family member run in his stead.
(Jack is the great grandson of the late Cebu governor Dionisio Jakosalem.)
Jack’s health was the subject of much speculation after he fell seriously ill at about the time he filed his certificate of candidacy in early October.
Cebu Daily News learned that his condition was identified as neurocysticercosis – a parasitic infection from pork tapeworm. (See separate story).
His wife Sharon said Jack could already open his eyes, move his legs and nod his head to respond to questions.
Dr. Vatanagul said that he first treated Jakosalem more than a year ago for a parasite infection in his brain.
He again met Jack on October 2, 2012 when Jack sought his help about recurring headaches and seizures.
A CT scan later showed lesions in his brain which required immediate attention.
Neuro-surgeon Dr. Wyben Briones did the operation to remove small bones from Jakosalem’s head to relieve pressure in his swelling brain and to control the seizures.
“It was a long process because the brain is the most sensitive part of the body,” he said.
Last December 13, Jack underwent another operation to address hydrocephalus or swelling caused by water in the brain.
A CT scan after the second operation showed that Jakosalem’s brain was already well thanks to “good doctors that we have on board.” But Vatanagul said they continue to pray for for divine intervention for Jakosalem’s recovery.
Vatanagul said that the presence of his family has been very instrumental in his recovery.
Jack’s elder sister, Lorna Jakosalem-Edwards, flew in from the US on October 13 to stay with her brother at the hospital.
Sharon said she has her hands full attending to the needs of her husband and two young sons.
“Every night I pray the Pedro Calungsod novena. I started that when Dr. Wyben Briones let me read the novena before his emergency operations. It’s like Pedro Calungsod is really trying to guide us because the day before the operation, somebody went to the hospital to give us a gift and it was a Pedro Calungsod statue.”
Sharon said that with her husband still in the ICU of Perpetual Succour Hospital, she doesn’t want to talk about his political plans.
Asked if she was prepared to be her husband’s replacement candidate, Sharon said “right now I only want to focus on my husband and my children’s needs. Maybe you can ask the mayor about that.”
Dr. Vatanagul said that brain parasites usually result from eating raw and infected pork. A single parasite could hatch its egg in the human body and reproduce.
Parasites could grow in the brain, eyes, muscles and other parts of the body. /Edison A. delos Angeles, Correspondent