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Recovered Filipina Covid patient wants to give back to society

09 May 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Jinkie looking good in a picture she shared on Facebook, where she chronicled her struggle with Covid-19

After her painful struggle with the deadly coronavirus disease, Filipina domestic helper Jinkie Alhambra wants to recover fully soon, so that she can give back to society.

Her immediate concern is to donate blood plasma, especially to serious Covid-19 patients in Hong Kong, so they could also recover from the deadly disease.

Alhambra was nursed back to health 23 days after being hospitalized in Queen Mary Hospital in Pokfulam after she tested positive for the disease.
The 48-year-old Alhambra said in an online interview on May 6, after her latest follow-up check-up at Queen Mary, that as a Covid-19 victim, she received a US$200 financial aid from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

With that amount, she remotely mounted on Apr 22 with help from her husband and friends, a relief operation for poor families affected by the anti-Covid lockdown in her neighborhood in Dasmarinas City, Cavite.

“Malaking tulong naman din po yung Php10,000, yung US$200. Kung baga, may maitutulong sa akin kung anuman, pero I chose to start a relief drive, idinonate ko po iyon,” said Alhambra.
Her friends from Kid Muay Thai martial arts group in Hong Kong pitched in to raise funds for the relief drive, which distributed 5 kilos of rice each to 100 families in Barangay Sto. Cristo, Dasmariñas.

She still gets cash donations until now but she says she is saving that for another relief mission in the future.

Results of Alhambra’s previous follow-up check-up on Apr 8, the first since she was declared Covid-free and discharged on Apr 1, showed her antibodies count has improved, meaning she has built up immunity against Covid.

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During her May 6 check-up, she underwent a blood test, electrocardiogram and echogram to listen to her heartbeat.

“I’m really hoping na magiging maganda ang antibodies count ko dahil it is something na makapag-donate ako ng blood plasma para makatulong sa mga may Covid-19,” she said.

Blood plasma is the yellowish part of the blood that takes protein and other nutrients throughout the body. Various studies have shown that people who have recovered fully from Covid-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus.

Jinkie shared photos of even the painful swabs for tests she had to go through  while being treated

Alhambra said the check-ups and its series of laboratory tests have been taking a lot of her time as she needs to go to the hospital frequently for follow-up examinations. Fortunately for her, the hospital in Pokfulam is not far from her employer’s flat in Lower Baguio Villa.

It also helps that her 52-year-old employer is a recovered Covid-19 patient herself, having tested positive for the disease before her, and so understands that her helper needs to go for frequent check-ups as she does.
Alhambra said she has managed to balance her time well between work and her hospital visits. Her main main job is cooking and her employer is the only person she needs to serve.

“Kailangan ko lang mag-adjust na makapagluto on time. Kahit ire-reheat ko na lang, basta ang importante ay nagawa ko yung pagluluto,” she said.

On May 7, she went to the Aberdeen Out-patient Clinic for her hypertension and blood pressure check-up. The day before, she had to go through a series of tests at Queen Mary that kept her there until 8pm.

“Sabi ko nga po, time management lang para hindi siya maka-interfere sa gawain ko dito sa bahay,” said Alhambra.

Her employer knows it is for everybody’s sake that the maid’s health has to be monitored and be certified as infection-free. “It’s really OK for her that I’m OK,” the maid said.

Alhambra recounted that the only time she and her employer had a little argument was when the boss learned of the maid’s media interviews about her Covid episode. The irony is that the employer read an article in Apple Daily that Alhambra said was published without her permission.

“Pero we’re OK now,” she said. “Nagkakaintindihan na kami at sinabi kong ang lahat ng information na sinulat ng Apple Daily ay galing sa CHP (Centre for Health Protection)at sa DOH (Department of Health).”

She said she has completed only six months in her second contract with her employer and so it’s too early to talk about whether she should sign up for another one.

Alhambra has been away from her family for 15 years and she thinks it might also be time to be with them. After all, her financial obligation has eased considerably after her two sons graduated from university.

Her boys both obtained their degrees from De La Salle University Dasmariñas and are now working. The older one is a graphic artist and the younger, a radiology technician.

Still, she is undecided. “Let’s cross the bridge when we get there,” she said.

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