VANCOUVER, British Columbia — After being in coma for six days, Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Josefina “Majo” Tumbaga finally opened her eyes at the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CSICU) of the St. Paul’s Hospital on Burrard St. March 26.
She underwent heart surgery supervised by Dr. Anson Cheung, surgical director of the Cardiac Transplant of British Columbia, according to hospital nurse Anabelle Mangaliman.
Tumbaga, 30, was rushed to the hospital after she collapsed upon arrival at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on March 20, an apparent victim of cardiac arrest.
She arrived without any companion via Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight from Manila and was bound for Toronto where she was scheduled to work at Tim Hortons, hospital staff Judy Pagud said in an exclusive interview.
“She has no relatives in Canada. Although she has regained consciousness after six days of being in coma, she could not speak,” Mangaliman said. “She was still in state of shock.”
Narima Dela Cruz, a community leader who responded to information about Tumbaga, talked to the patient and assured her she would be fine. “Magpalakas ka. Lakasan mo ang loob mo. Magkapamilya tayo at marami tayo rito (Be strong. We are all one big family here. We will help you),” said the teary eyed Dela Cruz.
Tumbaga had tube and dextrose attached on her neck and body and was being monitored by a machine. She tried to speak but could not say a word. Hysterical and crying, she finally was able to say “thank you” in a hoarse but inaudible voice.
‘KEEP ON PRAYING’
Another community leader, Nemecio Cepeda Sr., cried while telling Tumbaga to “keep on praying.”
“You are in good hands,” assured Cepeda, who underwent heart surgery in the same hospital in 2008. “I was once in that bed (pointing to where Tumbaga was laying) and stayed here for three and a half months.”
“Nakakaawa. Hindi puedeng hindi ka mapaiyak sa sitwasyon niya (No one can bear seeing her in that situation),” lamented caregiver Alejandro Sevillo, who visited Tumbaga together with Dela Cruz and Cepeda.
They promised Tumbaga to visit her again.
Dela Cruz asked from Mangaliman the contact number of Tumbaga’s mother, Juliet Gutierrez, in Pasong Tamo, Makati, Philippines and called the mother by long distance.
“The mother was crying and was very worried. She was asking if Majo is already conscious. I assured her Majo has regained consciousness but could not yet speak,” said Dela Cruz, who was also able to get in touch with Tumbaga’s aunt, Divine Pimentel.
It was not immediately known if Tumbaga was married.
Tumbaga’s hospital bill reportedly costs $1,500 per day, excluding the medicines, among other expenses. Tumbaga was supposed to be covered by insurance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) but unconfirmed reports said she had no insurance.