Resly's Benefactor
Community-civic leader Van Ong (right), former president of FILAMCCO, is shown in photo with sisters Resly (center) and Roslyn Ellaga who arrived recently in Michigan from Davao City, Philippines. Resly, who has a facial defect, will be operated on soon at the Providence Hospital. Photo was taken during a party held last Jan. 28 at Fuji Buffet in Madison Heights. Photo by Richard Talaban

Ruben Mariot Jr., a young man from Davao, went under the knife on May 5, 2014 at the Providence Hospital in Southfield to remove an ugly tumor in his face.

Filipino-American registered nurse (ret.) Van Ong said that although the operation was successful, it took 12 hours for six surgeons to do it. “It was a delicate, bloody operation because in the tumor was a blood vessel wired to the brain,” Van told the Filipino Star News.

The operation began at 6 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.

There were tense moments during the operation as the doctors feared that the excessive loss of blood could trigger a heart attack, Van recalled. In fact, there were indications the patient was on the brink of a heart attack, he said.

He also said that the removal of the tumor, which covered Ruben’s left eye, was the first phase of the operation, and the second phase will involve plastic surgery that would mask the blackened facial skin left by the ugly protrusion medically called “hemangioma.”

It was an inborn physical defect which used to be small but it gradually enlarged. It was said to be caused by the swelling of a blood vessel.

Van’s brother, Oscar Ong, arranged the free surgical operation for Ruben, 25 years old, who had finished a civil-engineering course. Oscar also paid for the round-trip plane fares of Ruben and his mother Elizabeth, who are both staying in the house of Van.

Oscar, an anesthetic nurse at Providence Hospital, and Van have been helping their poor fellow Davaoenos who are suffering from diseases and  physical defects. Ruben is the seventh patient from Davao brought to Michigan by the two brothers for operations to correct physical abnormalities.

Ruben’s case was described by Van as the most dangerous among the seven patients. “Oscar was so scared during the operation, and it was even suggested that the surgery be stopped,” Van said.

Ruben is now recuperating from the operation and is preparing himself for the plastic surgery which may take place after a few months. The doctors said there is the possibility that the tumor may grow again, Van said, adding that the excess facial skin has to be de-bred before the plastic surgery could be done.

Van said surgeons in Davao City did not want to do the surgery on Ruben because they know that the operation is bloody and difficult.

Oscar and Van heaped praises on the six surgeons, among them Dr. Marc Hnatiuk, for doing the operation free of charge.

Ruben is also thankful to the six doctors as well as the Ong brothers for their generosity. In Van’s house, he helps in doing household chores as a way of showing his gratitude.

For Oscar and Van, helping people is a lifetime commitment. Like good Samaritans, their hearts always bleed for the poor and the helpless. (Tony Antonio)