Kids at the age of 10 usually run, jump and play, but for Gil Merced even taking a few steps seemed like a difficult task. This Dubai-based Filipino boy was suffering from Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare and life-threatening congenital heart defect that does not let enough blood enter the lungs for oxygenation.
Even with a slight amount of exertion his oxygen levels dropped drastically and he would faint. Thanks to the efforts of St Mary's Church in Dubai, that took Gil's story to the world through The Khaleej Times, a few months ago, his case was taken up by Dr Moopen's Foundation, a not-for-profit arm of DM Healthcare in Kochi, India, that gave him a new lease of life.
Gil Merced, is the third child of Gil Gatdula and Mercedita, a couple originally from the Philippines who have settled in Dubai. He could not be operated for his condition till now as his family could not afford to pay for the surgery, a highly complicated and expensive procedure.
As Gil's condition kept deteriorating, his parents continued to try their best to raise funds for their son's treatment but without any hope.
Under Dr. Moopen's social initiative which offers free cardiac surgery to underprivileged children in the Philippines - 'Healing Touch - Little Hearts' Programme, Gil Merced and his family, along with Sister Kochu Theresa of St Mary's Convent were flown down to Aster Medcity in Kochi, Kerala.
Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon, Dr Sajan Koshy, on August 5, 2014, performed one of the most complex and specialized procedures in pediatric cardiac surgery.
After a successful surgery, Gil was discharged from hospital on August 14 and will remain in Kochi for another week to recover. His doctors have stated that he is on his way to a normal life. Once back in Dubai, Gil will be given follow-up care at the Aster Jubilee Medical Complex. All expenses of Gil's surgery and medical care were supported by Dr Moopen's Foundation, which has already done over 20 free surgeries for Filipinos.
"Dr Moopen's Foundation is committed to the cause of lending a helping hand to those in need, especially children. We also closely monitor the patient's health long enough after the procedure is done," said Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman of the foundation.
The Chairman also proudly stated, "It is a proud moment for all of us at Aster Medcity. Gil Merced is a fighter and we are happy that we could bring together all the facilities that were needed to heal his little heart and give him a normal life."