A Pintig Puso Christmas Story

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PP Camilo Ramirez

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Except for a young lady from Laoag City. On December 3, 2020, we received an email message from Laura Maniscalco Delise of Heartbeat International. It asked if Pintig Puso Pilipinas could reach out to a patient in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. Patient Charisse Jara, a 24-year-old housekeeper from Laoag City, was diagnosed with Symptomatic Bradycardia and needed a dual chamber pacemaker.

After several correspondences, calls, and text messages with the patient, the Biotronik technical specialist, and the attending cardiologist, it was decided that the patient should be brought to the UP-Philippine General Hospital for the pacemaker implantation. Pintig Puso Pilipinas only has hospital based heart centers in Manila and Cebu and their typical patients come from nearby cities and towns.

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The schedule called for Charisse to be in Manila on the 18th, be prepped and swab tested on the 19th, admitted on the 20th and operated on the 21st. And if everything went well, she could fly back to Laoag on Christmas day.

Once the pacing device was secured, the next hurdles were airfare and lodging. Charisse and her father were hesitant and afraid to go to Manila because of this. It was also their first time to board a plane and also their first time to Manila where they did not know anyone. We assured them that we would help and guide them while they were here in Manila. The Pintig Puso Pilipinas board approved the payment for the roundtrip flight and for a room in an Airbnb unit near UP-PGH.

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December 21 – implantation day. The procedure was headed by the team of Dr. Ariston Bautista, Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Ian Tionloc, Anesthesiologist, and the referring physicians Dr. Danielle Villanueva and Dr. Aiza Katrina Reyes. The plan was to implant a dual chamber pacemaker on Charisse that would connect to the heart via two pacemaker leads. During the implantation, an RV lead (the first lead) was successfully inserted. However, upon insertion of the accompanying RA lead (the second lead), it got stuck in the RV lead. The team attempted several times to remove the RA lead but failed. To avoid complications, the team decided to abandon the RA lead. When inserting another RA lead had once again become difficult, the team decided to install instead a single chamber pacemaker using the already positioned RV lead. The patient remained stable throughout the procedure and immediately felt the benefit of a pacemaker, albeit, a single chamber one only.

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After two days of recovery, Charisse was discharged on the 25th and was cleared to fly back to Laoag City to celebrate a most wonderful Christmas with her family.

“Thank you so much po sa tulong nyo po, isang buhay na naman po ang naisalba nyo. God Bless po sa inyong lahat. Merry Christmas din po.”-Charisse

The bigger picture of this story is the opportunity to establish a heart center in Northern Luzon. Because of Charisse, we connected with Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMHMC) and now have a chance to reach out to poor hearts in the Northern Region. We sent a draft of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with MMMHMC to the Hospital Director. And once all requirements of both parties are satisfied, we will work out a shipment of devices and accessories to MMMHMC, the next pacing device repository and implant center of Pintig Puso Pilipinas.