While conducting a clinical infectious disease trial (funded by the National Health and Medical research Council of Australia) in the province of Northern Samar, Philippines, I encountered Ronel Baldmero, a 26-year-old male Filipino quadriplegic patient, who was living with his mother in the remote village of Simora Palapag. Upon examination of Ronel’s four limbs, it was found that amputations had been performed below the olecranon of both upper limbs with the removal of the left axillary posterior trunk, and distal to the patella of both lower limbs.

Ronel’s injuries were the result of an electrical accident that occurred at 0830 on April 7th, 2011, at a construction site in Metro Manila. He was employed as a metal and glass welder. Ronel was preparing to weld an iron bar when the bar touched a 20,000 volt electrical overhanging wire. For a few seconds (1-3 seconds) the electricity coursed through his body, into his arms, and exited his axillae and feet, before a large electrical spark pushed him onto the floor in a supine position. The accident caused electrical burns to 25% of his body. During the first few seconds, he felt no pain but experienced intense heat throughout his body. He was conscious and witnessed the distal parts of his arms and legs turn completely black, with open wounds on both his wrists with a diameter matching the iron bar and the bone was exposed. Ronel sustained motor paralysis distal to the patellae but had conserved minimal motor activity within the phalanges. Within a minute his limbs became inflamed.

For 30 minutes he lay on the floor with no help, as his co-workers were afraid of possible electrocution. At 0900 local time he was transported in bed linen on the back of a pickup truck to Tondo General Hospital. The victim did not receive any medical treatment for eight hours while waiting for transfer to the burn unit at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Centre. At 1700 he was admitted to the emergency ward at Jose Reyes Hospital in Metro Manila. At the end of the second week a decision was made to amputate his legs distal to the knee, and at the end of the third week, his arms below the olecranon. The decision of where to amputate was made by ascertaining nerve and tissue viability.  After the second amputation, on the 35th day, he was transferred to the orthopaedic ward. During his 55th day of stay, the patient received home medications, as well as consultation with social workers and psychologists prior to discharge. Ronel was recommended for prosthetic limbs, however, further information on obtaining prostheses was not given. Upon discharge on the 31st of May, 2011, he was helped home by his mother. For the last six years the patient has received no help from the local government, the provincial government, or from the national health-care provider (PhilHealth) for disability support or for the acquisition of artificial limbs because they simply do not provide for these services. Ronel comes from a large poor family in a remote and rural area on the island of Samar. His father is a rice farmer and it would be impossible for his family to afford any rehabilitation or prosthetic limbs for him.

The first thing that struck me about Ronel was his ‘electrifying’ smile despite all that he has been through. I am trying to raise $50,000 AUD for Ronel. The funds will be used to purchase artificial limbs, provide him with much needed physio and occupational therapy so he can walk and use his arms again, and to obtain a diploma in information technology in Manila. He dreams of doing something productive with his life and to one day marry. His mother tells him this will never happen but I have told him to never to lose hope and I will do my very best to support him. Any remaining funds will be used for future prosthetic limbs, ongoing rehabilitation and towards the cost of living in Manila while he undertakes his studies. He and his family have asked everyone for help and in one final attempt they approached me. I have written his case report up in the journal BMJ Case Reports  in the hope of drawing attention to not only Ronel’s case but for countless millions in a similar predicament in the developing world.


With your help we can make a difference in Ronel’s life. All funds will be put in trust for Ronel and be used for his long term care and to get his life back on track.  I thank you for giving what you can for this great young man!

Yours sincerely,

Professor Allen Ross, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRCPath

Griffith University, Australia


Allen Thao Ross
Macgregor QLD

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