‘Experience Life’

“This is my testimonial speech at Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital’s during the symposium about the Kidney Transplantation Awareness.”

Donor seminarian Marcelino Rapayla (left side) and Recipient Fr. Ernie Dayanan (right side). Their story is really a novel to write. One day when I write my memoirs... I surely will share their story. Truly inspiring! Dr. Alvin Roxas (center) said

Donor seminarian Marcelino Rapayla (left side) and Recipient Fr. Ernie Dayanan (right side). Their story is really a novel to write. One day when I write my memoirs… I surely will share their story. Truly inspiring! Dr. Alvin Roxas (center) said

 There’s this boy, I know. A decade ago he could not have imagined surviving in the difficulties of life. Who was he anyway but a homebody kid, and at his young age he struggles against poverty. Who was he anyway a tiny but optimistic boy. Despite struggling to make a living, he continues to dream and move on. What a positive philosophy he has. He always believes that life is a beautiful journey. He has been a scavenger once. He never forgets this experience when he ate some foods that were thrown in the garbage because of hunger. There were times when his family could only have one meal in a day and eat some good meat when they got leftovers from the garbage. Who was he anyway a dreamer and believer that education is one of the great treasures that can be kept in life. And so, he finished his high school and landed into different job experiences; such as a construction laborer, machinist helper, janitorial and manufacturing operator in an American firm at the MEPZ. Then, he became a breadwinner. He sent his siblings to school as well as himself as he continues into college. This boy is me.

Life is a complex description. Apparently, there was the time that I was walking in the park while on the other days, I felt like an uphill run on a rocky road. However, each experience helped me to define the person who I am now.  Since all of my siblings had their own job and some of them have their own family, I felt free like a bird, to fly in any direction.  I quit my white collar job in MEPZ which I had two decades of service there and chosen not to work again since I preferred to serve God by pursuing my long-time dream of becoming a priest.  I entered in the seminary to deepen my discernment for priesthood vocation.

While in the seminary, I learned that the uncle (a priest) of a fellow seminarian needed a kidney transplant. It has also been my dream to donate an organ after my death but did not know where to go to make an arrangement, so when I heard of the need of a fellow seminarian’s uncle, I quickly volunteered. Why should I wait to die for me to help? We’re in fact, we have two kidneys, one is to care and the other one is to share. I can live healthy with one kidney. I’m just a steward of this earthly body and it’s about time I gave it back to the owner (God).

Laboratories were in progress and I received personal confrontations from the people closest to me not to pursue the kidney donation because this might risk my life. But this is my ‘ultimate expression of love for my neighbor in terms of being prepared to sacrifice. In the fictional movies, the essence of being a hero is sacrifice. Everyone needs a hero, as the saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ For me, valuing sacrifice is called to be a God’s instrument of touching one’s life. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “This kind of action is only virtuous if the person reflects upon the danger or risk involved in the act. The elements of risk and danger in virtuous actions are components of that certain kind of altruistic action that is defined by sacrifice or by the need for the agent to give something up in performing the act.” This action is, for Aquinas, directed ultimately towards the end of achieving divinity. I am pretty sure that this reflects the benefit of the Holy Spirit’s gift of courage that reflects confidently and without fear of my decision.

Nothing changes after donation. All activities were back to normal except the high resulted of creatine (1.9) after several months but gradually going down with enough intakes of water, regular exercise and healthy diet. This is a normal reaction since I only have one kidney that undergoing an adjustment. The scar does not degrade my self-esteem but reminding me always the Gospel that goes “Whoever saves his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake he will find it” (CF Matthew 10:39). The moral sense of this verse is to do our social responsibility. Whoever loses his life for the sake of God’s name will do his duty and end this life leaving some heart prints to people closest to him. A new life will sprout or an extension of it will grow into someone’s life.

There is moral and ethical argumentation about kidney donation. In the Philippines, moral issue arises about this topic when Filipinos are selling their kidneys. Some Filipino contacts or foreign recipients utilize the vulnerability of those people in the slum area who have difficulties to make a living in life. For an altruist person and also in Christian ethics of charity, ‘courage was an important component too in pursuing true happiness and the good virtuous’ (Aquinas 1964: II-II. 129.2). Helping others without expecting any in return, indeed, is an act of altruism. And this is my advocate, to inspire a living donor by sharing these experiences, touching the lives of those who have the desire to help other people especially those suffering the renal diseases. Inspiring them to become God’s instrument to let these people ‘experience life’ (an engrave words on the door of the Cebu Transplant Network clinic). And lastly, the decision to donate was not made by myself alone. I prayed a lot that if this decision could bring the glory to His name and for the good for my soul, I have in mind that God will grant it. After praying fervently in the chapel of the St. Therese of the Child Jesus at the San Carlos Seminary College, I’ve seen a rose petal (red color) under the kneeling. And I interpreted that scenario that my decision was aligned to His divine plan, for me and for Fr. Renerio Dayanan, the recipient of one of my kidneys. The kidney transplantation was done on May 10, 2011 at the Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital (CDUH). Thanks be to God for this experience and for the doctors especially Dr. Alvin Roxas, which the instruments that this divine plan done successfully.

This selfless and life time sacrifice, thus, is a call and inspiration that everyone could be God’s instrument to let someone ‘experience life.’ I feel grateful and thankful to God for these opportunities that come along my ways. With all of these experiences, I optimistically find the meaning and purpose in self-giving. My sacrifices, and the way I dealt with them, are among the many gifts that shape my life.

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