It’s the ultimate accolade for a young professional. But for the Makati Medical Center’s Dr. Karl Michael Reyes who was recognized in December 2013 with The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award for his contribution in medicine, particularly congenital heart disease, helping patients in need is reward enough.
Consider the grim statistics. “Of the 1.7 million children who are born in the Philippines every year, approximately 17,000 will be born with some kind of congenital heart condition,” says Dr. Reyes, who did his surgical residency at the University of the Philippines, followed by clinical fellowships in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and at the Children’s Hospital Boston-Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.
“At some point, 10-20 percent of them will need to undergo surgery. That’s anywhere from 1,700-3,400 children.”
Among indigent patients, seeking assistance for heart surgery can have them placed on the wait list of a hospital’s charity cases for up to five years.
Since choosing to subspecialize in pediatric cardiac surgery, Dr. Reyes has consistently given children a fighting chance. A member of the Rotary Club of Makati West, he’s involved in the medical missions organized by the Gift of Life, a US-based group founded by Rotarians in New York.
It was at the Makati Medical Center eight years ago where the first Gift of Life heart surgery was performed in the Philippines. Last April, Dr. Reyes led a team of local and international doctors in a medical mission conducted at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The mission saw 10 children undergo life-extending surgeries.
Since its inception in early 2011, Dr. Reyes’ own initiative with the help of some close colleagues—Operation Heart Foundation, Inc.—has extended surgery to some 100 children.
Dr. Reyes, who has been practicing at the Makati Medical Center since late 2010, has likewise performed pediatric cardiac surgeries at MMC for financially strapped patients; three, in fact, were under his care last year.
“Makati Medical Center has a very close community of doctors. We work very well with each other and make it a point to help each other out,” avers the surgeon.
For all the children that he’s treated, countless others await. “I don’t think we’ve really earned this award yet, we’ve only just started,” reflects Dr. Reyes of his 2013 TOYM achievement. “There’s definitely much more that needs to be done.”