Heartbreak. The word often perceived along the lines of unexpected, unrequited, and unkempt. The expression we use too lightly to describe a feeling that weighs too much. The silence we never admit because to acknowledge it would hurt more than actually feeling it. A heart breaking.

However, there exists a literal sense to this nonfiction. It may not involve hearts breaking even, but the pain one feels might be just as comparable. This is for the patients who suffer Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). A congenital disease wherein there is a failure for the ductus arteriosus, an arterial shunt in fetal life, to close on schedule. This short vessel usually closes shortly after birth, permitting blood from that moment on to course from the heart directly to the lungs. If the shunt is open, there is irregular transmission of blood between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. PDA is a particularly a common problem among premature infants.

Last February 7, 2017, 7 patients, with ages ranging from 2-18 years old, suffering from the said condition were admitted to undergo a PDA Device Closure procedure. This was made possible by The Medical City Iloilo in partnership with the Rotary Club of Metro Iloilo and also with the help of PCSO. The operation “Mend A Broken Heart Program” started fixing hearts way back 2011 and has been changing the lives of countless who cannot afford the treatment. This minimally invasive procedure lasted for about half-an-hour at average and was facilitated by the pediatric interventional cardiologists, Dr. Dexter Eugene Cheng and Dra. Mae Dago-oc.


Anyone could be fooled while entering the room greeted by a smile. One would not notice the pain hidden behind the smile of the parents for their child and the smile of their child for the irrevocable struggle they face. It was during the high-school graduation day of Lorraine (18), when she found out that she had PDA. She lost consciousness during the ceremony and was rushed to the nearest health center. Considered as another turning point for her family, after loss of her mother at such a young age, she now suffers from a dysfunctional heart.

Joshua (6), was only 4 months old when it was discovered that he has the said condition. With the hole in his heart expanding as the years go by, breathing became harder and life wasn’t as bright. It is disheartening to learn that patients who have PDA are more prone to respiratory illnesses. Pneumonia is a common incident among these kids and from the view of that of their parents it makes you wonder what would hurt more? To see them have difficulty in breathing or know that their heart isn’t beating right?

The stories behind that of the undertakings of Crissel (2), Shiloh (3), Are’chyl (11), Mercy (13) and Shirley (15) may be of the parallel outlooks but that does not save them the hardship. The families discovered the program through the recommendation of their attending physicians: Dra. Ma. Shelah Salaya-Ruffert, Dr. Rea Franco, and Dra. Mary Jane Villanueva-Rodriguez. Spared from having to pay hundreds of thousands for the operation, the medical mission became an immeasurable help.


“It was like the weight of the world was lifted on my shoulders”, the common thought the parents expressed a day after the successful surgery. Breathing
seemed a whole lot easier. It was such a sight to see the smiles on their faces that does not conceal anything else other than happiness and gratitude. The journey of mending a broken is never easy but if these kids can smile despite the pain, then maybe it won’t be that hard either.

“Mend a Broken Heart Program” of The Rotary Club of Metro Iloilo shares this principle with that of The Medical City Iloilo: If we want the world to change, we can start by changing the world of one person by means of the way we know the best. May it be through patient partnership to achieve quality care or through community service projects implemented to alleviate lives, we are making hearts beat longer.

By: Diane Danica Dy, RMT