CAL offers Filipino boy free tickets to Taiwan for surgery



MANILA–A two-year-old Filipino boy with a rare liver disease flew to Taiwan with his family Friday for surgery at Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, where he had a liver transplant a year ago, said the trip’s sponsor China Airlines (CAL).

Bruce Chen, a spokesman based at CAL’s Philippines branch, said on his Facebook page that the airline was touched by a letter written by the boy’s mother and decided to give the family an all-expenses paid trip to the southern city.

Jocelyn Nieto Romero, the child’s mother and liver donor, told CAL that her son Justin Paga had developed symptoms of organ rejection one year after the liver transplant and she hoped to bring him back to Taiwan for further treatment, Chen said in a message in both Chinese and English.

Romero, who is a school teacher, and her husband have launched a campaign under the theme, “ I can save a life, a chance for life: Hope for Justin” to help raise the funds for their son, who was born with a fatal disease.

They made bags and T-shirts for sale and hosted “A Chance for Life Fun Run” events to attract funds from charitable organizations and individuals to pay for the operation, which costs about NT$200,000 (US$6,612), Chen said.

The family is scheduled to return to the Philippines in early May.

Since 2001, more than 40 Philippine patients, mostly children, have had liver surgery at Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, with a survival rate of around 90 percent.

The survivors have organized a club in Manila to help more people receive liver treatment in Taiwan.