Healing a Hole in His Heart

Story and photos by Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Content Specialist

When a sponsored boy in the Philippines is diagnosed with a dire condition, his Child Champions step in to help save his life.


Jansey sits in his room at home.

Jansey, 12, knows exactly what he wants to become in the future. He knows this not by a wild dream or someone else suggesting it to him.

He knows what he wants to be because of what he went through.

“I want to be a doctor,” says Jansey, who lives in a small village in the valley of the mountainous Davao de Oro region in the southern part of the Philippines. “[A doctor] to help people who have heart conditions.”

Two years ago, Jansey had a very different dream. His only dream was to live longer.

A Heart Problem Discovered

Growing up, Jansey was a normal, active boy. He liked playing all sorts of outdoor games like tag and basketball with his friends. The only difference between him and his friends is that he tired easily and always seemed to be catching his breath, according to this father. Also, he was small for his age.

When he was 2, Jansey got sick and his parents, Daniel and Evelyn, took him to a doctor for a checkup. After conducting some tests, the doctor discovered that Jansey had a hole in his heart, a congenital condition he was born with.

To his parents, it felt like the whole world just dropped on their shoulders when they heard this news.

Their hearts broke even more when the doctor said they would need $9,000 to pay for his open-heart surgery.

“Where could we get that amount of money? We are only poor,” Daniel says.

Though their world crashed, they remained hopeful.

“We just prayed,” Daniel says. “What else could we do?”

Family Dreams of Better Life for Kids

Daniel, 47, is a day laborer, and his shy wife Evelyn, 44, takes care of the home.

Jansey with his family.

Daniel works as a construction worker and when a project ends, he works on a vegetable farm. He makes the equivalent of about $7 a day, which isn’t enough to feed his family of seven.

When they run out of money, he borrows from a local store so they can eat. When payday comes, Daniel must first pay back any loans before he can buy food for his family. Any sort of medical care was out of the question.

They have five children, all boys. Jansey is the fourth child.

“I have high hopes for my children, but [sending them to high school] is all we can afford,” Daniel says.

“I am thankful that my older sons are working hard for their education. I remembered when we were having dinner, one of them said, ‘I will find a way, Pa.’”

Two of Daniel and Evelyn’s children are in college; one got a government-funded scholarship while the other one is working to pay for his education. Their younger children are in the ninth and seventh grades, and Jansey is in eighth grade. Daniel and his wife only reached sixth grade.

“We are dreaming for them to have a good life. We want them to have a life that is far from what we have now,” Daniel says.

But more than a better life, Daniel and Evelyn had a most earnest dream — they wanted their Jansey to live longer.


A Painful Truth About Heart Disease

According to the 2020 Philippine Health Statistics, congenital heart problems are the fifth-leading cause of infant mortality in the country. And among 10- to 14-year-olds, heart disease is the ninth-leading cause of death.

Jansey with his Hope Center Director Cha Barillo.

Jansey did not want to be part of these statistics.

“Pa, if I will not be getting the surgery, I will not reach 13 or 14,” Jansey told his dad.

Jansey’s words rang in his parents’ ears. They were afraid for him to undergo surgery even though the doctor assured them that it has a 99% success rate. They used to believe that the surgery would make Jansey’s life shorter. A lack of knowledge and feeding on false information is a common mindset in many poor communities regarding getting proper medical intervention.

This and the fact that the family couldn’t afford the costly surgery meant Jansey remained fragile and untreated for seven years.

Divine Intervention for Jansey

The family never stopped praying since the day they learned that Jansey had a heart problem. They were hoping for a miracle to happen.

And then one did.

In 2019, the newly opened Panoraon Hope Center selected children to be registered in the OneChild program. They had room for one child from each family in the community. Jansey’s parents planned to register his youngest brother Ezeqiel in the program.

This is the view from the front of Janzey’s family’s house.

But then 8-year-old Jansey said to his father, “Pa, can I be the one to join OneChild?” They realized that Ezeqiel was young and still had a chance in the future.

So, instead of Ezeqiel, Jansey was registered to the program and there the Child Champions found out about his heart condition.

Saving Jansey Becomes Priority

Hope Center Director Cha Barillo took Jansey to a specialist in the city, which is a four-hour trip from their village. The doctor confirmed the urgency of his operation. The hole in his heart had gotten bigger.

But Jansey’s parents still didn’t know how they could afford to pay for the surgery.

Determined to save this boy’s life, Cha reported Jansey’s condition to the OneChild country office to seek advice. She says that OneChild staff in the Philippines agreed to pay for all the medical interventions that Jansey needed as soon as possible.

“We went back and forth to Davao City to get the medical attention he needs,” she says. “From transportation, dental and medical fees, to food and accommodation, it was all covered by our Hope Center fund.”

The family stands in the back of their house.

Thankfully, Jansey qualified for the “Z Benefits” fund by Philhealth, a government health agency that would cover his heart surgery expenses. The timing was perfect because he would not have qualified if he was older than 10, according to Cha. At that time, he was already 10.

And all this was happening in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when things were not normal. But his Child Champions did not give up because of the challenges posed by the pandemic.

When everything was shutting down, God was opening doors for Jansey.

Surgery Day Finally Arrives

Then the very day everyone was waiting and praying for arrived. Oct. 21, 2021, was the day of the surgery.

Jansey remembers lying on a stretcher wearing his hospital gown and a face mask, all ready for his surgery. While he was being transferred to the operating room, all he could see were fluorescent lights above him and all he could hear was the sound of the squeaky wheels of his stretcher.

Jansey can do a lot more around the house now that his heart is healed.

His only thought at that moment was to get better.

“All I remember was when the doctor injected [sedatives] to make me sleep, and connected me to different machines,” Jansey recalls of his experience in the operating room.

“I was trying hard not to have negative thoughts. I was scared but also happy,” Daniel says, describing his feelings when Jansey was wheeled into the operating room.

“I was praying that the operation would be successful,” Evelyn recalls.

It was the longest four hours that Daniel and Evelyn ever had to wait. Finally, the long wait was over.

The doctor asked Daniel to come with him. The walk toward the recovery room felt endless. All he could hear was the fast beating of his heart. He was thinking the worst but trying his best to stay calm.

When they reached the room, Daniel’s anxiety was replaced with an overwhelming feeling of relief and joy when he saw Jansey with all the apparatus attached to him — still alive.

The fear that they felt for Jansey all their lives ended the moment they saw him. The operation was a success.

“The Lord never abandoned us. We are overjoyed,” Daniel says. No more hole in Jansey’s heart.

At the same time, Jansey’s Child Champions were waiting and praying outside the hospital.

“They were just a call away when we needed something,” Daniel says.

A Mended Heart’s Future Awaits

Jansey is now completely healed. Just a scar on his chest reminds him that God is a healer.

“I can now play,” he says, without worrying about his heart.

No more fear of dying — just a new heart for life and a passion to live to his fullest potential.

Who knows? With the support he is getting from his loving family and Child Champions, he certainly can be the doctor that he wants to be in the future.

Give a child hope that could even save their life. Sponsor a child today!


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