This is the story of Romar. He lives on the small island of Biliran in the Visayans area of the Philippines. He enjoys playing basketball and going fishing. He does not ask for material things such as the newest Xbox or Playstation. He just wants to lead a normal life where he does not feel the need to hide from society.
The latter statement is from a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe aimed at helping Romar’s quality of life improve by raising funds to bring him to the U.S. to undergo extensive surgery which will remove the massive tumor from his face. “He has what is referred to as a lymphangioma” and the tumor has been growing since he was 3 years old, according to his medical records. Romar is now nearing the age of 18.
His story was first featured on a Filipino news station, which is when our partner Volunteer for the Visayans (VFV) was asked to step in and assist Romar in getting the financial support and medical attention he so desperately needs. In March 2014, the efforts to help Romar were kickstarted by VFV Alum Ron Mehaffy Jr., a nurse from Texas, USA, who came across Romar’s story on VFV’s webpage. He was instantly drawn to help,
I guess what inspired me to help him is that after 14 years or so of this growing on his face is that very few have tried too help him. If he would have been born in a country that has an established medical system for the poor this would have never gotten this advanced.
Ron has since taken matters in to his own hands, advocating and standing up for Romar’s needs and doing everything he can to not only fundraise for Romar to receive essential medical treatment but also coordinating the medical treatment, which must be completed in the U.S. As time passes, Ron continues to do everything he can, but the fundraising simply cannot happen fast enough for Romar.
The affected eye may not be able to be saved if not treated soon. And if not treated he will suffocate as the airway will become occluded.
Overtime, Romar’s condition may become life-threatening. So what needs to be done to “cure” Romar of something he has increasingly suffered with for over 14 years?
Since this is not a malignant tumor it can be treated through a series of operations too debulk the mass. They MD’s I have been in contact with are unsure of the eye involvement until a more recent MRI can be done. This will involve several operations over several months.
Other than financial restraints, Ron has faced many other challenges in preparing for Romar to be treated once the fundraising is completed.
Biggest challenge I would say is communication with some of MDs or their staff…What was most frustrating about it is I feel I have lost almost 2 years of because of talk…But also in these MD’s defense all of them have helped children all over the world by going out on missions for children with facial deformations. It isn’t ever a lack of the MD’s its more so the facility wanting too support the surgeries.
Romar’s Plea is not just a cry for financial support, it is a plea for the opportunity to “lead a normal life where he does not feel the need to hide from society.”
Can you help support Romar’s plea?
Visit Ron’s Campaign page to learn more or to make a donation.
You can also contact Ron at [email protected] with any questions.
Want to Learn More About Ron? We reached out to him to see how his experiences as a volunteer in the Philippines have changed his perspective on the world, health, and his life? His response was:
“As a volunteer with VFV many things have given me a greater outlook on what is important. As far as material things I have never felt the need too have the newest and best of things, but when I do buy something I ask myself do i really need that or can I send a few extra dollars to help the VFV. No matter how bad a day I have when I send my monthly donations it always puts a smile on my face. As far as healthcare it is sad that if Romar was here or another country this would of been taken care of as a child. And as a perspective on life I am great full for what I have. I don’t complain as much about trivial things like taxes or car problems. Many people who don’t have a car would love these ‘problems’.”