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Monday, March 12, 2001

Press release
Medical volunteers arranged help for July Espina Loria
of the Philippines. Surgery to save his life
will begin tomorrow.

Philippine boy
to get free life-saving
operation here

By Helen Altonn


A 4-year-old boy brought here from the Philippines by the Aloha Medical Mission will undergo complex surgery tomorrow for a rare congenital disease.

Dr. Walton Shim, pediatric surgeon at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, will perform the three- to four-hour operation.

July Espina Loria has Hirschsprung's disease, a disorder where a child is born without certain nerves in the intestine.

Those cells aid in normal bowel movement, but with Hirschsprung's disease, the stool becomes trapped in the large intestine, causing the abdomen to bulge.

Shim said there are ways to treat the condition other than surgery, but left untreated, the disease could be fatal.

One of eight children of an impoverished family, Loria had no treatment until Aloha Medical Mission volunteers arrived last November to care for patients in the Northern Samar province.

They diagnosed his disease, and Honolulu surgeon Carl Lum, a mission volunteer, made a temporary passageway for the large intestine to discharge waste into a pouch (a colostomy). Arrangements then were made to fly the child here for surgery at Kapiolani.

"I think he's in much better health than he used to be since Dr. Lum treated him with a colostomy in the Philippines," Shim said. "The Aloha Medical Mission did a wonderful job in discovering and temporarily treating him so he can have better health."

Shim, who operates on children from premature babies to adolescents, said the surgery for Hirschsprung's is one of the more complicated procedures in pediatric surgery.

It involves removing the defective, diseased portion of the colon and attaching colon with proper nerve cells to the rectum. The surgery would have been done soon after birth if the child had been in Honolulu, Shim said.

Dr. Jorge G. Camara, ophthalmologist and Aloha Medical Mission spokesman, said the boy has "remarkably lived" since Lum's emergency surgery five months ago. "He connected the bowel to the skin so, at least, his abdomen wouldn't rupture. That kept the boy alive and well until he could be flown here to Honolulu."

The child's parents could not come because of other children, so a relative accompanied him.

Hosting them is Lolita Ching, a registered nurse and volunteer who often takes in patients brought by the mission.

Dr. Ramon Sy, Aloha Medical president, coordinated the boy's arrival. The Rotary Club of Honolulu-Sunrise, through its president, William Gaeth, paid for the flight for both Loria and his companion.

Shim is donating his services, and Kapiolani is not charging for Loria's hospital expenses.

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