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Teen with lifelong illness wants to be an architect

Richmond San Miguel

MANILA, Philippines — Maria Chona San Miguel is used to hospital runs as she has been caring for her son, Richmond, for the past 10 years after his diagnosis with a lifelong illness.

Richmond was just 5 when he was found to be suffering from beta thalassemia, a blood disorder that causes hemoglobin deficiency, which can then lead to anemia. He requires a strict diet and several treatments, including monthly blood transfusions.

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At age 15, he has learned to live with his condition.

“I miss a lot of classes and I’m marked absent, but I always do my best to catch up,” he says.

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Currently in the ninth grade, Richmond attends his online classes diligently. “I love drawing, so I want to become an architect.”

But the pandemic has made it harder for him to seek treatment due to stringent health protocols and lockdowns imposed by the government.

“It has been harder to visit the hospital, as we only commute,” Chona lamented. “It’s also hard to budget our money, since my husband and I are senior citizens and we are out of work. I depend on my other daughter for our expenses since she pays all of our bills.”

Apart from money matters, finding blood donors for Richmond has also become more difficult.

“It’s been harder to find blood donors, since most are afraid of going to the hospital because they’re scared of catching COVID-19,” Chona said.

Richmond needs type A+ blood for his monthly treatments at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

Despite the risk of COVID-19 infection, Chona goes out to solicit donations for her son’s medical expenses.

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Apart from the P2,900 fee for every blood transfusion session, she also needs to scrounge up money for their allowance and transportation, which she says totals over P1,500 per hospital trip.

Richmond’s monthly medical expenses alone amount to P57,630. This covers his maintenance medicine such as deferiprone and Desferal to control his iron levels, on top of laboratory tests like 2D Echo, blood cross-matching, complete blood count and ultrasound.

Maria Chona San Miguel can be contacted at tel. 0935-7960618. Donations for her son’s medical expenses can be deposited in her Landbank account no. 1406132249.

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TAGS: beta thalassemia patient, financial help needed, Richmond San Miguel
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