“Our daughter has biliary atresia.” Sonny Pasimio, 36, and Ria Pasimio, 36 Children: Erin, 7, and Bea, 4
When her daughter Erin was just two months old, Ria noticed a yellow tinge in the corner of her firstborn’s eyes. She had Erin immediately checked by her pediatrician and was reassuredthat there was nothing to worry about. However, after undergoing a series of tests the next day, Erin was diagnosed with biliary atresia—a condition where the bile ducts are blocked so bile isnot flushed out of the body and slowly damages liver cells. It is a serious condition that could lead to cirrhosis, even death if left untreated. It hits one in every 15,000 babies.
Ria and her husband Sonny were devastated. They knew very little about the condition but learned that the only solution was a liver transplant. At that time, there had been no successful liver transplants in the Philippines, and the options abroad were very expensive. As their daughter was growing, the prospect of losing her was becoming more and more painful and difficult to bear.
Both parents had to deal with transplant centers rejecting Erin’s case and doctors telling them to start saying their good-byes to Erin. They had days that started out with small victories (such as Erin eating well), but suddenly took a turn for the worse - with Erin bleeding profusely and being rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU).
But Erin was - and still is - a fighter. Through Ria and Sonny’s many sleepless nights, their daughter keeps them strong by being strong. Erin wants to get better, and fights to get better. Seeing this faith in their daughter inspires them so much that it even helped Ria deal with her fear of donating part of her liver to Erin.
The battle for Erin’s life is physically, emotionally, and financially draining. In his former blog, Sonny chronicled their family’s emotional roller-coaster ride: “We are a ball of mixed emotions... We bounce from fear to pain to sorrow to guilt to denial and then to fear again. In spite of this, we are sustained by hope. Somehow, we know that the Lord will lead us gently through it all.”
If not for the help of their relatives, friends, Sonny’s employer Nestlé Philippines, and even people they hadn’t met such as those from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, they never would have thought they’d have a chance to fight for Erin’s life.
Ria and Sonny were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to find the best treatment for Erin, and thatshe wouldn’t make it through. But prayers—and the constant assurance from family, friends, doctors, and even strangers that they were doing the best they could as parents—helped them overcome those fears. Sonny writes, “We have never been more scared in our lives, but we have also never felt more loved.” With countless help and support from others as well as prayers, their love for one another, and the inspiration that Erin herself unknowingly gave in her fight to live and enjoy every second of her life, the liver transplant was successfully performed in Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore in 2007. Erin was just a year old. Immediately after both their surgeries, Ria was determined to recover as quickly as possible to be able to take care of Erin in the ICU.
Today, seeing Erin in school, enjoying every moment that she gets to try new things and how loving she is to her younger sister Bea, has made all the hardships worthwhile. If anything, the Pasimios hold to their belief that God is a faithful God. “You can allow yourselves to feel bad, mourn even. But after that, do everything that is humanly possible. Never lose hope. And as crazy as it sounds, enjoy each other through all the trials. Laugh and smile when you can. Always expect miracles to happen. God will always listen.”