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14-year-old almost ready to go home

February 12, 2007

Fourteen-year-old Jemhel Galleto, the boy who recently underwent two operations with the help of DAILY Star readers, is almost ready to go home to Cabalagnan in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, where he is a high school sophomore.

His recovery from his complicated second surgery had been very slow until late last week when he started showing signs of steady progress. But mounting bills have made his family worry. “Without the help of generous individuals, we can never afford to pay the cost of his operation,” his mother, Mely, said. Jehmel, son of a fisherman who was displaced from his work by the Sept. 11 oil spill, underwent a colostomy mid-November and a pull-through surgery on Jan. 12 at the Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital to correct the problem caused by Hirschsprung’s Disease, which prevented him from moving his bowels normally since birth.

As a result of the disease, Jemhel’s growth has been stunted. At 14, he stands only about 3’6″.

His case was published in the DAILY STAR after St. La Salle Mass Communication students documenting the oil spill in Nueva Valencia stumbled into his unusual medical problem. A DAILY STAR online reader in the United States offered to help foot his surgery bills, then estimated to cost P100,000. He was operated on free of charge by Dr. Roberto Lozada, a Bacolod native, and was confined at the IDH service ward. But his slow recovery and his prolonged stay in the hospital resulted in staggering bills, particularly for medicines and laboratory tests.

As of Feb. 10, Jemhel’s bills had reached about P250,000. A STAR reader sent P20,000 in response to the appeal for additional help last week. Obviously, more assistance from civic-spirited readers is needed to pay for his bills so he can be discharged this week. “I never ever thought in all my life that my son would be operated on as we could not afford it,” the boy’s mother told the DAILY STAR.

Jemhel is looking forward to returning to school after more than two month’s absence. “Thank you all for your help, my life will be normal now,” he said.

The DAILY STAR, which hopes to raise at least P100,000 to help pay Jemhel’s hospital bills, welcomes assistance from its readers. You may contact Tel. No. 034-434-5642 or email us at visayandailystar.com. (Visayan Daily Star, Feb. 12, 2007)

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