The first thing I remember of my nephew Hans Sebio, then only son of young couple Steve and Maggie, was when I was invited to attend a concert for a cause for his medical treatment. His father is a cousin and was a bassist in a band at that time. The young Sebio was diagnosed with a life threatening heart defect. Doctors diagnosed Han’s condition as “double outlet right ventricle – Taussig Bing variety with a large ventricular septal defect, right ventricular enlargement coaretation of the aorta, pulmonary artery hypertension; congestive heart failure, secondary to the above structural heart defect.”
With the rising bill for his medications, the young couple sought out good Samaritans through concerts for Hans and through the net. However, with all of their efforts they couldn’t even pay half the price of Han’s operation. They prayed for a miracle.
A miracle did happen when a New York based foundation wanted to sponsor Han’s medical treatment. Gloria Weichand, the founder and president of the Gloria’s Place of Hope asked the couple to bring the baby to New York. On September 16, 2000, Maggie and Hans flew to the big Apple and the baby was immediately brought to NYU Medical Center upon arrival at the airport.
Unable to afford a decent accommodation, Maggie and Hans stayed at the Ronald Macdonald House, a $20 dollar per night accommodation supposedly for cancer patients. When Weichand explained their predicament, the mother and child were accepted in the facility. New York became the home of Hans for the next four years.
After four years and three operations, Hans was strong enough to go back to his home. He started attending elementary school. For several years, he seems to be doing fine. He also had a younger brother Keefe to play with.
On September this year, he had cardiac arrest. The whole family decided to join Hans back to the U.S. This time the sponsor to Han’s operation was the Gift of Life International and the Verrazano Club of New York. On October 13, Maggie and Hans went to New York, while Steve and Keefe proceeded to San Francisco to stay in Vallejo with Modesto “Estoy” Aglit (a friend of Maggie and Steve).
The Foundation’s representatives made sure the basic needs of Maggie and Hans were met and they were comfortable. After his checkups and lab tests, Hans’ open heart surgery was scheduled on the 22nd of October. Everyone was expecting a recovery when Hans seems to be doing well. This would have been Hans’ 4th open heart surgery. The whole family was supposed to stay in the U.S. until Hans has fully recovered. Their family friend Gloria Batalao was supposed to host Maggie and Hans while recovering. Gloria Batalao is also maintaining Han’s blog that she and Maggie created. http://www.anssebio.blogspot.com.
Few days before the scheduled surgery, the doctors requested a conference with both parents so Steve and Keefe left San Francisco for New York. They met with the Doctors who explained to them that Hans is too weak and his heart cannot hold another heart surgery and the only option left is a heart transplant. Han’s had to wait for a possible donor.
A few days passed and Hans suffered few more attacks. This time his fragile condition couldn’t take more punishment. No matter how he wants to hold on he succumbed to his disease last December 4 in the arms of his loving family.
In the next couple of days, many people came forward to assist. The medical staff at NYU, the compassionate Ronald McDonald House and the good people at the Verrazano Rotary Club who played a key role in his care. Members of the Verrazano Rotary (Coney Island, Brooklyn) and the Gift of Life office made the necessary arrangements to help the Sebio family bring Hans back to his home town. The staff at Ronald McDonald arranged for a memorial service and provided counseling. Even the cancer patients in the house who were fighting for their lives came to the service to bid goodbye to their friend in adversity. All good people who helped this family at such a critical time.
On the 17th of December, Hans was buried in his hometown by his loving family, relatives and friends. Reading all of the articles and bloggs written about Hans, the Gift of Life child whose few years of life taught us so many things.
Hans death is not the end of his chapter, many more chapters will be written because of him. All of the people he touched have more resolve to help the people in need. I was only able to help with that one ticket I bought for his concert and I wish I have done more. I hope I can do more next time another Hans comes knocking for help. I’m thankful that there are many people out there who have shared more than their extras. And for those who did services above self for Hans, whose ways of life are to help others, may God bless all of your efforts. Although results sometimes are not what you aspire, the hopes you bring make a big difference not only to the people you’re serving but also to the ones touched by your selfless acts.
And from Steve and Maggie here’s what they said, “To all our friends and relatives from all over who sent cash donations, messages of encouragement, and to all who prayed for Hans and our family, Thank you very much! May God continue to guide and bless you!”