Bohol has lost a great humanitarian friend—and a “heart” to the sick poor— with the Christmas death in Manila of Dr. Ludgerio Torres whose surgical missions here have made many Boholanos live.
The death of the Caviteño heart surgeon, 77, due to kidney failure on December 23 brought grief to the humanitarian service communities not just in Bohol but the country at this season of merry-making.
Philippine Gift of Life (PGL) President/Chief Executive Officer Francisca Baluyot and Gov. Edgar Chatto, a PGL adviser, mourned for the great loss of a ‘true friend for life” as they conveyed to Torres’ family their condolences and sympathies.
A former medical director of the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Torres was the PGL chief consultant and president of the Heart Foundation of the Philippines (HFP) at the time of his death.
He had already led eight heart surgical missions in Bohol from 2001 to 2015 during which a total of 550 patients from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao had been operated, 80% of them were Boholanos.
Facilitated by the PGL and principally sponsored by the provincial government of Bohol, the missions were the only being conducted by the Torres group outside Metro Manila.
If paid, the total quantified cost of the said massive free heart operations could amount to almost P500 million or half a billion pesos, according to Baluyot.
Aside from the mission beneficiaries, there were referred heart patients who were operated, also for free, right at the PHC when Torres was its director.
The Gift of Life Foundation also had Boholano patients, including children of tender ages, operated at its affiliate hospitals in the United States and Canada.
One of them was a baby girl from Maribojoc who underwent a successful crucial heart surgery during the New York World Trade Center bombing just a few blocks away from the hospital on September 11, 1993.
The chairman of the PGL, Dr. Ramiro Cadag, is based in the US.
Baluyot said Torres’ “true legacy lies on the profound impact he had on the lives of the countless indigent patients he had helped throughout his humble career.”
Thru the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), the province is expected to pass a resolution expressing Bohol’s deep grief and gratitude for the death posthumously,
Torres was twice recipient of the Golden Heart Award from the US-based Home Reach Foundation, another partner of the PGL and Bohol government in humanitarian works.
“His (Torres) contribution to the heart surgical missions in Bohol was tremendous,” Baluyot said.
Torres and Baluyot, a former long-time Bohol Red Cross administrator, happen to be both national model parent awardees.
“We have been fortunate enough to know and work with him, enriching us with his sense of kindness and graciousness,” Baluyot said.
She said, “The Lord must have a very good reason to take him back, knowing the extraordinary work he had done, and would have continued to do, to heal especially the underprivileged children born with heart defects through his great skill as a surgeon.”
Torres, who finished his medicine at the University of Sto. Tomas, placed first in the national medical board examinations in 1962.
Also a former chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the St. Luke Hospital, Torres prominently landed in the Marquis Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care in 2004.
It was three years after he led in Bohol the first massive major heart surgical mission outside Metro Manila.
Torres was past president of the thoracic and cardiovascular surgeons’ organization in the country and a high council member of the Asian association, apart from his prestigious foreign fellowships.
FATED TO HELP
Torres was destined to mercy missions as he already engaged as early as 1972 in the Heart Foundation of the Philippines Open Heart Surgery for Charity Cases Program.
Dr. Florante Lomibao, another non-Boholano consultant to the Gift of Life and a co-lead worker of Torres in the heart missions, revealed to Baluyot how Bohol had been so dear to Torres’ heart until the end of his own life.
Before he died, Torres asked Lomibao to “continue going to Bohol” in pursuit of their group’s humanitarian service.
Baluyot said Torres had planned to conduct another massive heart surgical mission in Bohol this year, 2017, particularly in July as a highlight of the annual Sandugo festival.
The kind heart doctor who saved from death hundreds of sick Boholanos who could not pay millions was laid to his final rest in his birthplace of Naic, Cavite yesterday. (Ven rebo Arigo)