We could all use this true-to-life Good Samaritan story to restore our faith in our fellow Filipinos.
Just when we thought that we’ve seen the lowest point where our society has sunk — what with all the plunder tales and the gruesome massacres the media carry — it is most gratifying to hear about the experience of someone who for a moment had good reason to feel that God went out of His way one day just for him.
That was how Rodolfo “Boy” Barretto felt about his recent life threatening experience. Boy Barretto is a contemporary of mine from the Ateneo de Manila High School batch of 1966.
Together with his wife, Cherrie, Boy Barretto was attending the anticipated Mass last February 9, a Saturday, at the Catholic Chapel in the Greenhills Shopping Center — when he suddenly felt a tightening of his chest. Having suffered a heart attack 12 years earlier, Boy sensed that he was having his second heart attack.
Calmly, he told Cherrie about what he was feeling and asked her to go to the nearest drug store to buy nitroglycerine tablets — an immediate measure to ease the problem. Boy was visibly under stress to those around him during the Mass. He was weakening, sweating and breathing heavily as what happens with those having a heart attack.
Knowing that you are having a life threatening situation is bad enough. To be alone, not knowing if you will ever see your wife or your kids again can be most agonizing. But as Boy found out, he was not alone.
A young man in his 20s who sat beside Boy assisted him. The lad asked what he could do and was ever ready to help in any way. Then a man in his 40s came forward and gave Boy two nitroglycerine tablets. The man was keeping the two nitroglycerine tablets for his own emergency use in case he too had a heart attack. A thankful Boy Barretto quickly placed the two life saving tablets under his tongue, as per the cardiac protocol.
Just as Cherrie returned with the nitroglycerine tablets she bought at the nearby drug store, a lady doctor joined the Good Samaritans assisting Boy to lend her medical expertise. With the help of the young Good Samaritan, they were able to get two security personnel of the Greenhills Shopping Center to come to the Chapel to assist in bringing Boy to the nearby clinic where at least some emergency equipment (like an oxygen tank) were available.
Seeing that it was not advisable for Boy to walk, one of the security guards rushed and quickly produced a wheelchair in just 3 minutes. In the situation he was in, Boy could have aggravated his heart attack if he forced himself to walk to the clinic.
Knowing that the clinic is not sufficiently staffed and equipped to handle an emergency medical case like a heart attack, the Good Samaritans immediately arranged an ambulance to bring Boy to the nearest hospital, the Cardinal Santos Medical Center along Wilson Street on East Greenhills.
Unfortunately, the doctors who were in the hospital at the time did not feel qualified to handle Boy’s case which, at that point, required no less than a heart specialist. They were able to contact Dr. Wilfred Dee who was certainly most qualified for the job and who, providentially, just finished a heart operation. If they called Dr. Dee one or two hours earlier, there was no way that he would have been able to come for that would mean abandoning an on-going heart surgery.
Boy Barretto found himself in an unexpected life threatening situation but he also did not expect to be so gifted by Divine Providence with having such Good Samaritans to see him through every step of his crisis.
Dr. Dee later confirmed that the two nitroglycerine tablets, the quick access to the oxygen tank at the clinic, then the immediate ambulance transport to the hospital saved Boy’s life. His heart attack happened at around 6 p.m. and Dr. Dee was doing an angiogram on Boy by 8 p.m. that very evening.
It took a Saturday night procedure plus another Sunday morning procedure to save Boy’s life. All told, Dr. Dee had to apply four stents on Boy’s blocked heart arteries in order to normalize the blood flow.
In recalling his experience, Boy felt that if the young Good Samaritan did not quickly produce the two security guards, if the man did not give him the two nitroglycerine tablets, if he forced himself to walk instead of use a wheelchair, if the lady doctor did not assist them, if he did not get to the oxygen immediately and then to the hospital just as fast and if not for the timely procedure conducted by Dr. Dee — then his survival chances would have dramatically dimmed with each missing act of providence.
Save for Dr. Dee, Boy never got to know the Good Samaritans who saved his life — not the young man, not the man who gave him the two nitroglycerine tablets, not the lady doctor and not the two security guards. There is nothing more that he wants than to get a chance to meet them and personally thank them for their goodness and golden hearts (Boy Barretto may be reached at his email address: rodolfo firstname.lastname@example.org).
Boy Barretto is now a retired businessman and until the late 1990s he was the sales manager of CC Unson, the marketers of Motolite Batteries.
Jesus Christ had good reason to shun the company of politicians, high-ranking public officials and Pharisees and preferred to be in the company of simple folks. If they don’t get you into harm’s way, you won’t likely get any genuine sympathy from self-seeking politicians, high-ranking public officials and those hypocritical Pharisees.
It is the ordinary folks who have innate goodness and will readily come to your rescue.