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Comatose Filipina flown home

27 October 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Candy is dearly loved by her wards, says Li (photo from Li's GoFundMe post)


The Filipina domestic worker who was left comatose by a stroke is now back in her hometown in Cagayan province, after being flown home on the Cathay Pacific flight that left for Manila at 7am on Monday, Oct 26.

The 37-year-old mother of three called Candy was accompanied on the flight by a fellow domestic worker who responded to an appeal for volunteers by the patient’s employer, Lewin Li, who also arranged for bringing her home.

Candy was brought to the airport from Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital by an ambulance arranged by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, which also booked the second ambulance that brought her to Cagayan.

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Li, who has managed to raise more than USD25,000 so far for Candy’s treatment and future needs, said she was worried that the Filipina wouldn’t get to see her family immediately after the 12-hour journey from Manila.

The kindly employer also said that sending Candy home did not give her complete comfort.

In a post the day before Candy’s flight, Li wrote: “I actually sense a bit of sadness, and hard to accept that she is returning home this way - completely bedridden, drifting between vegetative state and being comatose, not responding to anyone or anything... I don’t know how her kids would feel when they see her like this. I don’t know how she would feel? I’m also worried about the tremendous burden she could become to her family. It’s a long painful and stressful journey for them without any end in sight. I wish we could’ve done more for her.”

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In truth, Li has done far more than anyone to help Candy get the best treatment possible, despite the big odds.

From the money that she has raised, Li said various equipment would be bought for Candy, such as a hospital bed (Php14,000); phlegm suctioning machine (Php1,400); special milk powder (US$310/month).

Part of the money would also go toward buying a house for Candy and her children, as well as her future medical needs. Should there be some left after all these are paid for, the amount would be divided equally among the children for their studies.

Li began her difficult campaign to get Candy home shortly after the helper suffered a massive stroke on Aug 24, which left her comatose and fighting for her life in hospital.

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After consulting with Candy’s mother, doctors at PYNEH took her off a ventilator on Sept. 4, with instructions not to resuscitate her if she deteriorated. But despite the dire prognosis, Candy’s condition stabilized, and she managed to breathe on her own although still unconscious.

A few days later, Li faced another challenge when doctors told her she should start planning for Candy’s discharge. After contacting social workers and doing some research, Li said she came to the sad conclusion that Candy was not eligible for subsidized care from the Hong Kong government, given her visa status and age.

Putting her in a private care home was also out of the question, as it would cost at least US$3,000 a month. But sending her back to the Philippines given the quarantine restrictions due to Covid-19 was also a problem, given her sensitive condition.

Eventually, however, sending her home proved to be the only recourse left. In a post that accompanied an online funding campaign she set up for Candy on Aug 27 (https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=360000288632), Li said the helper’s children wanted to see their mother again.

Candy's kids wanted their mother home

“Doctors said there is over 50% chance she may be in vegetative state even if she lives,” said Li in her post.  “Her children are desperate to see their mother and hear from her again (she used to FaceTime them every night before bedtime).  We are clinging on to any hope we can find.”

Though Candy had worked for her family for just five months, Li said the Filipina had made a tremendous impact on them because of her “big, pure and loving heart.”

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Li added, “Our son adores her and misses her tremendously.  He looks for her all the time.  We really wish a miracle can happen to her and her loved ones.”

Now that the helper that her children loved dearly was finally home, Li said: “It still feels surreal that just two months ago Candy was still dancing and singing with us every day. We will miss her smile and warmth forever. Although she’s only worked for us for five months, her impact on our family is lifelong.”

In a bid to ensure Candy and her children could continue getting help from kind-hearted people, Li said she would keep the donation page she had set up indefinitely.

“Perhaps her family may need help along the way. I wish her kids can grow and perhaps I can pass this page onto them to manage,” she said.

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