Good Samaritans rescue ailing maid
NormaWenceslao, a 31-year-old domestic helper, is just one test away from undergoing a kidney transplant, thanks to kindhearted souls, one of them her employer in Hong Kong.
The Leyte native was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in March, a grim predicament that her mere salary as a maid could not possibly alleviate.
But she never had to look far for a lifeline. Lyudmila Bikmullina—Wenceslao’s boss and the 2007 winner of the Miss Ukraine Universe pageant—
pledged her help and even called upon her friends for additional assistance.
Bikmullina first shouldered Wenceslao’s checkups and dialysis sessions in Hong Kong. She later called up her former husband, William Kaye, and asked him to pitch in.
Bikmullina’s friend, Michael Davies, also entered the picture by looking for people who could help them get in touch with doctors and possible kidney donors in the Philippines.
Several phone calls and text messages later, Davies found Gilbert Legaspi, an engineer and president of the Philippine Association of Hong Kong, a group of Filipino professionals based in the Chinese administrative region.
They started discussing Wenceslao’s options in July. It was decided that she would have the operation at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City.
Davies, a Hong Kong Chinese whose wife is from Pampanga province, flew to Manila on July 13. Again with the help of Bikmullina and Kaye, Wenceslao got a plane ticket and followed days later.
After picking her up at the airport, Davies also facilitated a Wenceslao family reunion by fetching her husband, Roberto, and their 6-year-old daughter who by then had flown to Manila from their home in Hindang, Leyte province.
Using the contacts given by Legaspi, Davies also got in touch with doctors at NKTI and St. Luke’s Medical Center regarding Wenceslao’s operation and preliminary tests.
During the prescreening, four possible organ donors were considered: Roberto and three of his wife’s relatives, Davies told the Inquirer in a recent interview in Makati City. But Roberto—a construction worker—was later dropped from the list after his kidneys were also found to be weak, he said.
A nephew of Wenceslao was eventually chosen to be the donor.
Looking back at what they have done for Wenceslao so far, Davies said: “It’s just right that we do this. For us, it’s more than enough to see her getting well and able to take care of her daughter. I just think that if you have the chance to do [something] good, you just do it.”
According to Wenceslao, Bikmullina and Kaye have already spent more than half a million pesos for her treatment while Davies and Legaspi have allotted to her “much of their precious time.”
“I really can’t thank them enough,” she said. “I don’t know how I can repay all of this.”
“Ma’am Mila [Bikmullina] has been really kind from the start. Sometimes you hear horror stories about [maids and their employers] in Hong Kong. But Ma’am Mila, she is really good to me,” she said of her boss. “She said she wanted me to live for my daughter’s sake and that she would help me as long as she could. To think that I have been working for her for only less than a year.”
Her kidney transplant is scheduled on Sept. 22. The operation and the tests that she and the donor still need to undergo could cost a total of P1.8 million, she added, quoting doctors.
Since she did not qualify for PhilHealth’s Z package for medical conditions that require expensive treatments, her employer would be shouldering the cost. “Sir Mike [Davies] has been talking to the doctors and coordinating with them,” Wenceslao said.
“I’m scared and happy at the same time; there is still hope that I will live,” she told the Inquirer. “I really thank God for what He has done for me.”–Kristine Felisse Mangunay
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