Priest joins appeal for Filipino boy needing liver transplant

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2006, 12:00am

A priest and the Philippine consulate yesterday joined the call for donations for the family of a 21/2-year-old Filipino boy who arrives today for a life-saving liver transplant at Queen Mary Hospital.

Mark Jairus Mendoza's family still needs to raise about $300,000 to meet the $1 million bill for the transplant. He was born with biliary artesia, the absence of ducts that drain bile from the liver.

His mother, Lyden, will be donating part of her liver for the operation, tentatively set for March 9.

Mark will be the hospital's first foreign paediatric patient to receive a liver transplant.

The defect strikes one in 15,000. At two months old, Mark underwent an operation in the public Philippine General Hospital. But it failed and only a liver transplant can save his life.

'My youngest has gone through so much difficulty, but he has always been able to overcome each of them,' Mrs Mendoza said.

Father Emilio Lim, the Catholic Diocese's chaplain for Filipinos, said: 'We are appealing to overseas Filipino workers to help the boy. Poverty does not stop us from being generous to help the poor and those in need, especially this child who probably has a future before him. He should be given the chance.'

Father Lim would mention the boy at Sunday Mass. He believed there would be a response similar to that generated by last Friday's mudslide that swamped the farming village of Guinsaugon on Leyte island in the central Philippines. Collections at three Catholic churches totalled about $8,000, he said.

Philippine vice-consul Noel Novicio said the consulate could accept donations and give it to the family.

University of Hong Kong assistant professor Vanessa De Villa, a member of the transplant team, said: 'We will evaluate them again here. I have done all the preliminary evaluation in Manila and we have considered him and the mother and made plans for the operation.

'There is no way for him but to change the liver. His problem is liver infection and he has had some bleeding in the past. He has been on continuous antibiotics for about a year now.'