Nickel Asia Corp.’s 2019 Medical-Surgical Mission, held from Feb. 13 to 19, has completed a total of 597 surgical cases benefitting residents in and around the mining communities in Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Island, and Rio Tuba in Palawan.
The surgical procedures were 229 major and 339 minor operations on cleft palate and lips, hernia, gall bladder stones, goiter, ovarian cyst, myoma, hemorrhoids, cysts, breast mass, and other lump removals.
Dr. Bimbo T. Almonte, the Medical Director for the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining leg of the mission, shared that a bigger challenge was persuading members of the communities to come forward and not hesitate to accept NAC’s offer of free medical-surgical procedures.
“Some residents from far-flung barangays continue to dilly-dally in seeking medical help. They have various concerns ranging from financial and logistical issues. Our goal as a responsible member of these mining communities is to totally eliminate any unease the communities may have of these medical procedures,” explained Almonte.
“The members of the communities that NAC serves acknowledge the impact of the mission. In the 20 years we have been doing this, 8 years in Surigao and Dinagat, many lives have been changed for the better,” said NAC President Martin Antonio G. Zamora.
“After all, how often do you get the opportunity for a special surgical procedure free of any charges? We take care of the patients. We take care of our communities, that is our commitment,” Zamora added.
One of those who benefited from this year’s Mission was 60-year-old Mila Peralta, a resident of Surigao City. Mila had a mass as big as a volleyball under her arm that she had been carrying for the past 30 years.
It took a while for Mila to come to the Mission. Last February 12, after a major operation that lasted almost 6 hours, her life changed. Her daughter Teresa, who accompanied her, smiled and cried when her mother had her first meal after the operation sans the tumor.
Another beneficiary was Reynald Salvador, 42, from Narra, Palawan, who had a massive growth in his right chest that was estimated to weigh about 50 kilograms.
The lump, diagnosed as an angiomyoma, started growing from Reynald’s chest when he was 15 years old. It was only removed ― after 27 years ― when he was brought to NAC’s Medical Mission last week.
Reynald went home after a couple of days of rest following 4 hours of surgery.
The Missions started 20 years ago in RTN, the NAC subsidiary in Palawan. Eight years ago, the mission was extended to cover Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Island, where three other NAC subsidiaries are based – Cagdianao Mining, Hinatuan Mining, and Taganito Mining.
Each year, a team of volunteer medical experts would convene for the six-day annual mission – 3 days in Surigao and 3 days in Palawan. This year, the medical team had grown to 75-strong, most of whom are repeat returnees to the Mission.
Dr. Archie LaMadrid, the head surgeon who has been with the Mission from the very beginning, says: “The medical team are proud of the numbers of accomplished operations, it keeps us going.”
LaMadrid says the 297 surgical procedures completed in Rio Tuba this year alone is a record. Last year, the major and minor procedures done in RTN totaled 182.
Dr. Robinson Baron, the original proponent of the Mission, says they are looking forward to coming back next year.