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The Tale of a Container. A Super Typhoon created a Superhero

by Dr. Jazmin Parcon Sandoval

The 40 foot container was 2/3 full. This was in December and the container had to be moved out of Milwaukee's Armour Storage before another snowstorm hit. The icy freeway had claimed three lives in a multiple vehicle collision that weekend. In sub-zero temperatures, he and a few friends braved the treacherous highways of rural Wisconsin to collect more supplies from a warehouse located in the middle of nowhere. The container got filled and was pulled out of its mooring as scheduled. Its destination was Tacloban City Port in the Eastern Visayas, the hardest hit by Superstorm Yolanda (international name Haiyan). It arrived in Manila ahead of schedule on January 27th to the delight of all who contributed to the relief effort. Among them was Dr. Ruben Romero, who was most instrumental in making the container a reality. He had been to Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines on surgical missions and felt compelled to do all he could to help people who lost family and friends in the storm surge. He was in Tacloban City Hospital, did surgery on huge goiters and other pathology of the head and neck, just nine months before the strongest typhoon recorded in history landed. The hospital is now serving as a clinic, with no supplies, and surrounded by rubble.

He and his partner, Dr. Christopher Long, did fifteen major head and neck cases in four days in the recently-concluded Surgical Mission in Ibajay, Aklan, located on another island west of Tacloban. All of the hard work before and during the mission; the physical rigors of an eighteen-hour flight to the mission site and back, the unrelenting freezing temperatures in the Midwest when he returned, strained his heart. On March 8th, Dr. Romero underwent heart surgery. His companions in the humanitarian effort stood in awe of him, praying silently, thinking of him who gave his all to the least of us. He is presently on his way to complete recovery and looking to do another surgical mission in 2016!

Dr. Romero was born in San Carlos, Pangasinan in the Philippines, and grew up in Pampanga where he attended St. Mary's Academy in the city of Guagua. He went to school at the University of Santo Tomas High School and entered the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the same university where he graduated in 1968. He did his residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin, was certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, and the American Board of Surgery. His practice encompassed all areas of otolaryngology, with special interest in major head and neck surgery and endoscopic sinus surgery as well as advanced endoscopic skull base surgery. His skill as a surgeon is well known in Milwaukee and in areas of the Philippines where he spends two weeks each time the Rizal MacArthur Memorial Foundation (RMMF) and the Philippine Medical Association of Wisconsin (PMAW) conduct surgical missions there.

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