Asia

Typhoon Haiyan: Philippine family's search for medical care to save 'Dad'

Eighty-six-year-old Filemon Minoc survived the deadly typhoon that swept across Leyte and Samar islands, only for another struggle for survival to begin.

His daughter-in-law Christel Minoc takes up the story of how the octogenarian fared:

Image caption Filemon Minoc, 86, has kidney failure and requires daily dialysis treatment

Dad took shelter with some neighbours in Dagami inside the sturdy family home built from concrete.

Other people lived in wooden huts but the storm which has now claimed thousands of lives and swept away entire villages, somehow passed overhead with only limited structural damage to the property's windows and roof.

Dad has kidney failure and needs daily dialysis treatment so he was forced to make a really difficult journey across three barangays or towns, littered with bodies and debris in search of medical help.

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Media captionThe BBC interviewed Typhoon survivors in Tacloban including Peter Minoc

His son Peter, my husband, hired five different motorbikes for them to reach the airport in Tacloban, which is one of the places that was worst affected by the storm.

Can you imagine a seriously ill, 86-year-old man hanging on to the back of a motorbike?

Short of driving a tank, I think it was probably just about the only way they could have made it to Tacloban though, because of all the debris and buildings and trees blocking the roads.

When they got there, there were already crowds of people desperate to be flown off the island too. Peter wanted Dad to fly to Cebu so that he could be treated at the state-run hospital there which hadn't been damaged by the storm.

A BBC reporter spoke to Peter on Monday as he was waiting in Tacloban airport to see if he could get Dad on a military plane.

Image caption Christel only realised her husband was still alive when she saw him on BBC News

I hadn't been able to get hold of Peter since Thursday because all the mobile communication systems were down.

Watching your interview on Monday was the first time I realised my husband was even still alive.

Peter was meant to be bringing Dad back to Mindanao so that we could take care of him here.

We had recently sold up and Peter left his job in San Jose in California to move to the Philippines in order to be able to care for my father-in-law.

Their flight was on the Friday morning which is when the storm hit, so they never made it.

Image caption Peter Minoc's family moved from the US to the Philippines to care for his father

When I saw them on the TV it was such a relief but it was also really sad.

I could see the frustration and hear the desperation in Peter's voice, because, at that time, he didn't know whether he would be able to get Dad on the plane.

Just after that report I got a phone call from one of Peter's cousins saying Dad had made it to Cebu hospital.

Because the communication systems are still down in most places, Peter doesn't know his father was left in a corridor in A&E for a day and a half without food and water. I guess he thought once Dad got to hospital he would be taken care of so he went back to Dagami to try to help some of his other relatives including a 90-year-old aunt.

They survived the storm because they were in a sturdy concrete building, but they're all running out of food. Dagami is three towns away from Tacloban and no emergency aid workers or supplies have reached there yet. They just can't get through. Peter has been going out trying to find petrol and food for everyone.

Image caption Cebu is still recovering from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in October

In Cebu too the state-run hospital is running out of supplies and is massively overcrowded with casualties from the earthquake last month and now with people injured in the typhoon.

They don't have enough food to feed everyone in the hospital and for every single thing they want paying first, and an awful lot too. It's extortionate the amount they want before they will run even simple tests.

The terrible thing is, Dad is still not out of danger. He urgently needs a blood transfusion but there's no blood available.

I am going to fly to Cebu myself to see if can help him find a donor. His blood type is O+ and he needs the transfusion now.

His blood pressure is 50/40. I've been asking everyone I know if they can help and maybe I can take him some blood in a cool box or something. I just hope I get there in time and there's something we can do.

  • Filemon Minoc has been given a blood transfusion and is believed to be in a stable condition. He has also been transferred to a private hospital in Cebu.

Interview by Sitala Peek

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