Living On Hope
By Mikel Flamm
When Michelle Dalay Resuello, 27, found out she was Stage 5 kidney failure, she was shocked.
Looking back to that day in March 2016, she smiles and says, "I was having a routine physical as I was planning on working abroad and needed proof to show I was healthy.
“The doctors told me I had been born with one kidney and it was failing,” she recalled
Little did she know how much her life would change.
Within a few days of checking into the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, in Cagayan de Oro, her body began to shut down.
Dark brown spots appeared all over body. Her doctor explained she might not survive more than a few days.
"I prepared myself and accepted my fate," she says.
“My family came to be with me and offer their support. I had little strength and at one point I could not see or walk without assistance, “ she recalled.
Her aunt Josephine Tilap who works as nurse at the medical center had her placed on kidney dialysis and within two days she stabilized. She was instructed to receive two dialysis per week.
I arrived in Cagayan de Oro, four days after she had been admitted and by the time I saw her she had greatly improved. Most of the dark brown spots had disappeared and she said she felt much better.
As I spoke with her aunt Josephine, I was told that her condition was still very serious.
“Michelle will need a minimum of two dialysis per week to stay alive. She was very lucky because there was a point where we all felt she might not make it, ” Josephine explained.
I asked what her chances of survival were.
“If she continues on the dialysis and changes her diet, she can survive but what she needs is a kidney transplant,” she explained.
“Since the cost for a transplant is expensive, few people can afford the cost of the transplant and the cost of the on-going medication following the transplant.”
By undergoing dialysis at least two times per week, those with kidney failure can survive until the funds are raised for the transplant.
November 30, 2018
Since last week Michelle has had stomach problems. On early Tuesday morning November 27, I received a message from her mom, Celyn, that she was admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pains.
She was placed on medication in an effort to ease her pain. I heard from Celyn off and on during the day and evening that she was resting.
The following morning I woke up to a message at 5am from her mother, that Michelle had passed away. I was shocked. I stared at the message not wanting to believe the words, then the tears began to well up in my eyes.
My last visit to see her in the Philippines was in November of last year. Michelle had lost weight and had trouble breathing. I looked into getting an oxygen unit but she asked if an air conditioner could be bought instead. "I cannot sleep very good. It is so hot here," she said.
The following day with the help of her cousin Kristine we bought an air con for the size of room where she lived.
Over the months after I left she seemed to improve with her health, still doing her twice weekly dialysis.
I sent her money every month for her medicine and two visits to a special healer she found out about through a friend in her community who had been "healed" she claimed, for the cancer she had.
She was placed on a special diet that included vegetables, fruit and fish. She seemed to improve after the healing treatments over the coming months.
Last week she did tell me she did not feel good but there was no indication that she felt it was serious at that time.
Then a few days later on November 27th her mom let me know she was was admitted to the hospital, then the news the next morning that she had passed away.
Her family prepared for the funeral within a day, with numerous family members and friends helping with the funeral costs, as I did as well.
For days after, I found it still difficult to grasp that she had died. Her family was very supporting of her illness and her loss hit them especially hard.
I was impressed by Michelle's will to live, despite what she was up against.
She never once gave up and for this I admired her strength and compassion towards others, especially children.
Rest In Peace Michelle.
An estimated 10,000 Filipinos develop kidney failure each year in the Philippines.
Of this, only an estimated 73% received treatment due to their ability to get to the hospital providing dialysis or could afford the therapy.
The leading cause of kidney failure in the Philippines is diabetes (41%), followed by an inflammation of the kidneys (24%) and high blood pressure (22%). Patients were predominantly male (57%) with an average age of 53 years, although it is not uncommon for patients to be in their 20’s.
Kidney failure cannot be ignored. Without dialysis or kidney transplantation, patients with kidney failure will die.
In October 2016, children who live in Michelle's community of Calaanan, in Cagayan de Oro, drew pictures to support Michelle, with the theme of, "We Love Michelle...Please Help Her."
Michelle has two dialysis treatments per week at The Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao. the Philippines.
Kidney dialysis filters harmful wastes, salt, and excess fluid from the blood, restoring the blood to a normal, healthy balance.
The dialysis treatment replaces many of the functions a damaged kidney can no longer do.