RM awardee, Tzu Chi spread love, compassion thru eyes of needy

THE TCMF’s Buddhist Tzu Chi Eye Center in Sta. Mesa, Manila has catered to 137,905 outpatients and performed 15,677 surgeries since 2007.

“See Love Clearly,” the free eye surgical mission of the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation PH and Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, saw 213 local patients regain their eyesight through the help of volunteer ophthalmologists led by 2022 RMA recipient Dr. Tadashi Hatorri.

2022 RM awardee Dr. Tadashi Hatorri removes cataract on a patient.

Hatorri, 60, was bestowed the RMA for helping restore the eyesight of some 20,000 cataract patients in Vietnam and Myanmar free of charge over a span of two decades. His humanitarian work is motivated by the happiness of people he helps.

“I do not get money from doing charity work. Instead, I get the patients’ smiles, and that smile only inspires me more. It makes me want to do more because I share the patients’ joy,” said the director of the Asia Prevention of Blindness Association, according to Medium.

The TCMF’s Buddhist Tzu Chi Eye Center in Sta. Mesa, Manila has catered to 137,905 outpatients and performed 15,677 surgeries since 2007. After hearing about BTCEC’s charitable medical works over the years and seeing its state-of-the-art facility, RMAF officials, led by its president Susana Afan, were convinced it was a perfect venue for a medical outreach and the collaboration took place on 20 to 21 February.

Feeling the love

DOCTOR Mercy Jatico (left), one of volunteer anesthesiologists from UST Hospital, evaluates a patient before surgery. | PHOTOgraphs COURTESY OF TZU CHI FOUNDATION

Other volunteer doctors screened patients who were served hot soup and bread. Drs. Gina Ang, Mercy Jatico and Larry King interviewed 130 patients on the mission’s first day.

Jatico, a semi-retired anesthesiologist, has been volunteering at the BTCEC by administering and managing anesthesia during surgeries in the past couple of years. It was her student, King, who introduced her to the foundation. She cherishes every chance of serving less privileged patients.

“I am quite happy that even if I am little elderly, I am still useful and able to help. Although I have been a busy anesthesiologist in my active years, I think that this (volunteering at BTCEC) is the best thing that ever happened to me in my career because I feel the love — my love for rendering service, and the love of the patients in return.”

“The world is lucky to have Tzu Chi,” added, Dr. Vanessa Gonzales, another volunteer anesthesiologists from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital like Jatico.

“Look at all the good they are doing. The playing field for the less fortunate becomes equal.”

Answered prayer

Jacquelin Balan, 56, had been suffering poor vision for more than two years because of cataracts. She thanked the heavens when she learned the news that free diagnostic tests and surgery were being offered by the BTCEC.

“I do pray that I finally receive surgery so that I can still be of help to my family,” she said. And her prayers were answered when a friend told her about the foundation’s offer of free eye surgery.

Shortly after Balan consulted eye doctors at the BTCEC, her son fell ill due to low level of potassium in his blood.

She put aside her surgery to focus on her son’s treatment instead.

Heaven really moves mountains when you pray, according to Balan, because her son recovered in no time, giving her time to work on her own medical problem. She went back to BTCEC and had her needed surgery.

Today, as her son is recovering, Balan is seeing the world again.

Vilma Reyes, a laundress, became emotional as she expressed her gratitude for BTCEC for removing the cataracts of her husband, Rolly, a tricycle driver.

“I honestly cannot afford these services,” the teary-eyed mother of three said.

“I know because I had my husband go through these tests before when he fell ill, and it cost us P3,500. That is why, when they (Tzu Chi Foundation) phoned to inform us about these free services, I jumped for joy!”

The Tzu Chi Foundation inaugurated the BTCEC in March 2016. Located at the Buddhist campus and temple in Sta. Mesa, BTCEC is the country’s premier non-government organization-owned medical facility that is equipped with cutting-edge technology. It offers free surgical interventions for cataracts and other eye ailments.