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The First Filipino Doctor To Perform A Successful Heart Transplant

The Philippines´ first heart transplant operation has been pronounced a success, though doctors noted that such procedures here face a twin scarcity of donors and financial sponsors.

Doctor Jorge Garcia, a Filipino cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon based in Washington, the U.S. capital, announced the successful transplant May 30.

Garcia headed the 12-member medical team that performed the procedure May 28 on 38-year-old Rainier Lagman at the Makati Medical Center, one of the country´s top private hospitals, in Makati, south of Manila.

Lagman, a salesman with four children, was afflicted with cardiomyopathy, a disease that attacks heart muscles. Four days after the operation, he was reportedly able to sit, eat and walk around his hospital room.

Health Secretary Juan Flavier commended the team as demonstrating that Philippine doctors are on a par with the world´s best medical professionals.

Doctor Jose Yamamoto, one of the three cardiac surgeons on the team, said heart donors are hard to find, especially in the Philippines, where organ donation is still culturally taboo.

Garcia admitted that a heart transplant is "quite en expensive" operation, costing about US$148,000 in the United States. Flavier estimated the costs for Lagman´s operation could exceed a million pesos (US$36,000).

But in the United States, Garcia added, the poor who need expensive operations can get assistance from foundations and big corporations. He challenged big corporations in the Philippines to do the same.

The surgeon has resided in the United States since 1967. Since performing his first heart transplant there in 1987, he has handled 90 such procedures.


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