An accident that could have ruined John Abou-Samra’s vacation in the Philippines will instead help the small hospital that treated him serve its patients with new, modern equipment.
Abou-Samra, a Port Coquitlam bus driver, was standing on a pier in Kayangan Lake, a resort about one hour from the city of Coron, in June, when a couple of wooden slats gave way and one of his legs plunged down to his hip.
Bystanders rushed to his aid to pull him up, soothed his scrapes with ice and cold water, and helped him walk up and over a steep ridge where he could catch a boat that would transport him back to his hotel.
It wasn’t until the next day that the pain and severity of his wounds started to cause Abou-Samra concern. The hotel where he was staying arranged to drive him to Coron District Hospital to get checked out.
The attending physician, Dr. Edgar Flores, sent Abou-Samra for X-rays to ensure he hadn’t broken any bones, then advised him how to treat his injury with hot and cold water, as well as rest.
As he was waiting, Abou-Samra was struck by the small hospital’s spartan condition. Machinery was old or non-existent. Supplies were spare.
Yet, Abou-Samra said the staff treated him with the greatest care and compassion.
As he left the hospital, Abou-Samra started to think about how he might be able to return that concern. When he returned to the hospital the next day to thank Dr. Flores, and asked how he could help, the doctor showed him a small donation box.
But Abou-Samra had a grander idea.
A longtime supporter of the food bank in the Tri-Cities, Abou-Samra is a devout believer in contributing to his community, even on a bus driver’s salary.
So his planned retirement cruise could wait; instead, he offered to purchase medical equipment for the hospital that helped him. He asked the doctor to compile a wish list that could help make him a better doctor, and his hospital better able to care for its community.
Months later, and only a few weeks from his retirement from Coast Mountain Bus Company, Abou-Samra has placed orders with a local medical supplies company for items like an ECG machine, oxygen gauge, stethoscopes, a centrifuge and even a defibrillator. And he’s working with a friend in the Filipino community, Freddie Baguno, to coordinate with the Philippines’ consulate in Vancouver to transport the equipment to Coron.
The bill will come to more than $16,000.
But that number isn’t important to Abou-Samra; what really matters is the effect it will have on so many lives.
“If you give them the means, they can work miracles,” Abou-Samra said. “I like to make a difference.”