In October, 2014, at Philippine General Hospital in Manila, doctors and nurses from the National Institutes of Health [NIH] under the authority of the Philippine Department of Health began Stage 2 of Asia America Initiative’s Art of Hope and Program for Women and Children afflicted by cancer and rare genetic diseases such as Gaucher Disease and Pompe Disease. Without proper treatment, women with breast and other cancers have no chance of survival and the rare genetic diseases usually cause the death of children by the age of 7.
With your help, we have been able to help answer the prayers of the patients and their families – almost all of whom are under the poverty line and unable to afford the cost of such treatment -- by providing “gifts of life” without charging them fees beyond normal outpatient costs. This is made possible by an incredibly generous pharmaceutical company who specializes in rare diseases and anti-cancer organizations in the United States and Germany. Donations from Global Giving donors permit us to purchase light medicines to neutralize side effects caused by the powerful medicines.
In Spring 2009, AAI President Albert Santoli started Stage One of this program, and by late summer it was supported by Global Giving. All 20 children in Stage One are now cancer-free. Out of 30 women with breast cancer, according to the Philippine Cancer Society, 27 are now in remission. And after 5 years, 7 out of 8 children with rare and deadly genetic diseases which affects their liver and kidney functions, are otherwise healthy and strong. In September and October, 2014 genetics medicines needed to cover the next 6 months of steady treatment for all of these children was coordinated and shipped to the Philippines by AAI, in partnership with the Philippines Secretary of Health Enrique Ona, MD, the NIH and our pharmaceutical donors.
The past two years medicines for children's cancers such as Lymphoma and Leukemia have been extremely difficult to acquire. Donations of adult-related cancers have also been difficult to obtain. However, in late September 2014, AAI shipped 50,000 tablets of an anti-breast cancer medicine called Letrizole for use in the Breast Cancer center at Philippines General Hospital, the main Department of Health public hospital in the Philippines. Philippine General Hospital cancers to hundreds of women per year who suffer from breast cancer. These medicines will be used for patients at or below the poverty line with no cost to them or their families. Funds from Global Giving donors will also be used for light anti-side effect and nausea medicines and much needed vitamins and other nutritional support of patients.
Dr. Maryanne Chiong, MD, a Clinical Geneticist and lead doctor of such diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Manila has expressed her profound gratitude to AAI and our donors, including those from Global Giving. “We have never imagined such generosity, especially from new friends to our country from across the world, who have made it possible for us to keep these women and children alive. Without regularly scheduled doses of these very rare medicines, the children could not survive. We wish many blessings for all who have contributed. They should know that they have a profound place in all of our hearts.”
In 2013-14, Asia America Initiative successfully completed treatment of our first 20 child cancer patients in the Philippines with a 100% success rate for healing. In addition we have kept alive 8 out of 9 children born with rare genetic diseases. We thank God for watching over the children, doctors, nurses and medical suppliers who all conbtributed to the program's success. Our ability to provide the supplemental care, nutrition, transportation and artistic supplies came from our many heartfelt donors and partners in the Global Giving community.
Dr. Maryanne Chiong who is the head of Orphan Disease Research and Treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Manila, says, " The Asia America Initiave partnership with our hospitals and medical specialists has made the difference between life and death for 20 precious children. The cancer patients and eight other children born with rare genetic diseases that require ongoing and unique care have been provided the gift of life. We are so grateful to all donors living overseas -- from pharmaceutical companies to private citizens and students -- who sacrificed even a day or week's worth of coffee and donuts to send a modest but meaningful contribution have added up to a giant act of good will. Their action assured our children's survival."
At present AAI is seeking the financial support to purchase medicine so we can choose 20 new children from impoverished communities whose families would not be able to pay for the cost of their treatment. Oncology [cancer] medicines that overcome varieties of cancer that most affect children -- such as lymphoma and leukemia -- are in short supply in the United Stats and internationally.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude. We seek your support in this ongoing mission to assist these wonderful doctors like Dr. Maryanne who otherwise would lack the resources to save more children's lives.
Wonderful news for our Global Giving Donors: In August 2011 Asia America Initiative, with no funds for new programs and the organization's President recovering from a cancer surgery that few doctors thought he would survive, adopted 20 women and 30 women with various cancers in the Philippines and brought them to the mercy of the world through Global Giving. These human beings came from among the poorest people in the world whose families earned less than $5 per day.
Less than 3 years later, the program's first 20 children are cancer free -- thanks to your loyalty and generosity and incredible medical professionals at the Philippines Department of Health, the Philippine National Institutes of Health, the Philippine Cancer Society, Consul Helen Ong, our advisor Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, M.D. and staff at various hospitals in Manila. Our volunteer artists, psychologists and mascots have also had a major role. And of course, the Power of prayer. In addition, 27 out of 30 women who entered into breast cancer treatment under the program are now cancer free, with the other three still receiving treatment. And 7 out of 8 Children with rare genetic diseases are still alive and healthy. These children require monthly injections of Genzyme medicines which the company generously donates even though each treatment costs more than $10,000.
We have had the support of Thomas Roane at the National Cancer Coalition in Florida and our wonderful European friends at HFK-KrebsAllianz, and the unbelievable scientists at Genzyme, Inc. who invent and produce replacement medicines for terminal diseases that usually take the lives of beautiful children before they reach 13 years old. We still needed to raise thousands of dollars to cover an assortment of expenses relted to treatment, nutrition and maintaining a positive attitude through artistic expression.
In April 2014, AAI is using funds provided by Global Giving donors to provide for follow-up testing for recovering patients and to assist 60 children and their families to attend the Philippine Cancer Society's Children With Cancer Awareness Month activities at various public hospitals.
From the bottom of our hearts, we speak on behalf on the beneficiary women and children who are live today thanks to you. Maraming salamat, Po in Filipino language translates: Thank you very much, dear friends.
During the last Quarter of 2013, the Philippines was overwhelmed with natural disasters including a major earthquake, outbreaks of dengue fever, leptospirosis plague in post-flood sewage, a lethal strain of measles and the most powerful typhoons in recent history, as well as armed conflict and ethnic cleansing in Zamboanga city. Due to the dramatic number of historic crises, it is extremely difficult to raise funds for chronic illness programs such as cancer and genetic disorders. We receive no government grants or funds or communication from the US embassy. In fact, AAI received less than $850 for the Art of Hope and Healing Program supported by Global Giving donors during September through November. Although AAI worked to save lives in conducting emergency relief, we did not abandone our women and children patients Leveragingwith lethal chronic illnesses. Thanks to our wonderful partners at KrebsAllianz in Germany, the National Cancer Coalition in Florida, and the Department of Health and National Insitutes of Health and the Philippine Cancer Society in Manila, medicines and medical treatment are available. With funds from compassionate Global Giving donors, during September to November 2013 we we were able to transform $850 in cash into more than $169,500 in rare donated medicines such as Cerezyme and Myozyme to keep alive children with gentic diseases such as Pompe and Gaucher and provide backup for the medical exams of women with breast cancer.
We work with the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) which is one of the service and research oriented institutes of the National Institutes of Health-University of the Philippines Manila (NIH-UP) that specializes in "orphan diseases." Currently, at least six bright and beautiful children who come from families under the poverty line who require monthly injections of these gene replacement medicines to survive are alive thanks to you!! Dr. Mary Anne Chiong, MD, a specialist at the Insitute of Human Genetics says, "The medicines provided by the Asia America Inititaive have made the difference in the surivial of our children with Gaucher and Pompe diseases who would not live beyond the age of 12."
Our donors are persons with modest incomes or resources, yet you have done your part to prove there is kindness in this difficult world. I cannot put into adequate words the gratitude the medical staff, the patients and their families all feel toward you for your simple but profound acts of caring. God bless all who have assisted.
The following is an e-postcard from Zamil Akhtar, a GlobalGiving Representative in the Philippines:
Pauline is the sweetest little girl you will ever meet. She’s always smiling, slightly shy, and abundantly playful. But if not for Asia America Initiative’s cancer treatment program, she may not be alive. To treat the disease she suffers from requires a new medicine that costs thousands of dollars a week – her parents make about $200 a month. With help from a pharmaceutical company, Asia America Initiative has arranged to have her treated, and also provides art classes for her and other children in the program.
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