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Emergency room trip in Philippines prompts family’s Lenten fundraiser

Miguel Balagtas in the emergency room in the Philippines

In need: Brisbane boy Miguel Balagtas lies in a hospital corridor in the Philippines awaiting urgent medical attention.

A BRISBANE parishioner has launched a heartfelt Lenten appeal for a struggling hospital in the Philippines.

Sherry Balagtas was shocked at hospital conditions when her 13-year-old son Miguel was admitted with food poisoning during a family holiday in Palawan province recently.

She said the Coron District Hospital was poorly lacking in basic supplies and medicines.

“We had to call the hotel for a blanket and a pillow,” she said.

While Miguel recovered well after being kept in hospital overnight, Mrs Balagtas said she observed a dire lack of resources and even witnessed a midwife forced to operate solo, including wheeling a soon-to-be mother into theatre, and preparing for the delivery procedure alone.

“The Lord nudged me that night, so I could see the situation,” she said.

“It was a far cry from public hospitals here in Brisbane like Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

“It was then I told myself, that I will do what I can to help this hospital and raise awareness of its needs.”

Palawan province, with magnificent lakes and underground river caves, is a drawcard for tourists from all over the world, however rudimentary conditions at the 25-bed Coron District Hospital make even minor surgery difficult for the four doctors, eight nurses and two midwives.

family holiday

Helping hand: The Balagtas family on holidays in the Philippines, (from left) husband Eric, Sherry and son Miguel. Photo: Supplied.

Mrs Balagtas, who attends St Joseph and St Anthony church, Bracken Ridge, has set up an urgent appeal to send the hospital blankets, used pillowcases and cotton bed sheets.

Washcloths and towels, and used muslin wrap for newborn babies were also needed, she said.

After plucking up the courage to speak about the appeal at three Sunday Masses, Mrs Balagtas has been inundated with donated items brought to St Joseph and St Anthony church.

While more items are needed, she hopes to widen the hospital appeal by calling for cash donations to a Go Fund Me appeal.

“God really gave me the grace of the Holy Spirit to be able to tell my story in spite of me being too scared to speak in public,” Mrs Balagtas said.

“It (the appeal) will be my family’s way of saying thank you to the doctors and nurses who so tirelessly serve the underprivileged.

“They all serve with a sense of purpose and self-abandonment. They have sacrificed big fat pay cheques to serve the poor.”

The appeal for Coron District Hospital can be found at

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