RODELIO Cadas was born with an oversized head. He had an abnormal accumulation of cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) inside the brain.
The condition is called Hydrocephalus and it results in the failure of the brain to drain properly, causing a buildup of pressure, intermittent headaches, and death, if not treated properly.
Cadas needs help fast. His condition is best treated with the surgical placement of a shunt system early in life (before six months). This procedure is called Ventriculo-Pertioneal (VP) Shunting, which prevents further damage and enables the baby to lead a normal life. Shunting diverts the flow of CSF from a site within the central nervous system to another area of the body where it can be absorbed as part of the circulatory process.
However, the cost of the shunting procedure is prohibitive (ranging from P50,000- P100,000) depending on the severity of the case.
Because families like Cadas’ cannot afford the shunting procedure, most can only watch helplessly, as their children get worse.
In an interview with The Gulf News, Dr. Manuel Cacdac said that “about one out of 1,000 poor children suffer from hydrocephalus in the Philippines. ”
Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino
Fortunately, Dr. Cacdac, an outstanding Filipino-American neurosurgeon has made it his life’s mission to take care of children like Cadas, by offering free VP Shunting operations for children with hydrocephalus in the Philippines.
A renowned neurosurgeon in the United States since the 1970s, Dr. Cacdac has been doing free surgeries for poor patients, through medical missions supported by US-based Filipinos since 2006. He has since expanded his work through the founding of the Hydrocephalus Foundation of the Philippines (HFP).
For his humanitarian work, Dr. Cacdac was honored a few weeks ago by his excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III, with the Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino Award. Cacdac was recognized for his humanitarian endeavors — bringing surgical missions to different parts of the Philippines once or twice a year and founding the Hydrocephalus Foundation of the Philippines.
In giving Dr. Cacdac the Presidential Award, President Aquino noted the significance of his professional contribution that has resulted in an increase awareness of hydrocephalus and thereby improving the lives of afflicted Filipino babies, giving them a chance to live a norma life.
Awards and accolades
More popularly known in the Philippines as Mr. Hydrocephalus or Mr. Shuntman, Dr. Cacdac was also a BPinoy awardee in 2010, The Most Outstanding Indiana Filipino Physician of the Year in 2011, The Most Outstanding Alumnus for Community Service Award, USTMAAA in 2012. He was nominated for CNN Heroes and the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012.
In recognition of his outstanding service, Dr. Cacdac was given the SAGAMORE OF THE WABASH award by Gov. Joseph Kernan in 2004, for appreciation to his commitment in making Indiana a better place to live and raise a family.
“You have distinguished yourself by your humanity, your loyalty in friendship, your wisdom in council and your inspiration in leadership,” said Gov Kernan.
Education and career
Born and raised in the Philippines, Dr. Manuel A. Cacdac graduated from the University of Sto. Tomas and finished his residency in Neurological Surgery and fellowship in Microsurgery at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
He then joined the United States Navy as Asst. Chief of Neurosurgery at the Naval Hospital Boston. He provided neurosurgical care to casualties of the war, all military personnel and their dependents in the Northeast.
Dr. Cacdac joined a multi-specialty clinic in Western Kentucky for 2 years, before moving his practice to Terre Haute, lndiana (where he has been residing since 1975).
According to his profile in the Hydrocephalus Foundation website, Dr. Cacdac has served as Chief of Surgery and Chief of Staff at The Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
He also was a member of the IUMED Faculty of Medicine, lndiana State Campus, as Associate Clinical Professor from the mid 70s to the mid 90s.
He is a member of the lndiana Neurosurgical Society and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a fellow of the lnternational College of Surgeons.
He served as past president of the Philippine Medical Association of New York, and New Jersey. He was also a past president of the lndiana Philippine Medical Association; a past president of the Society of Philippine Neurosurgeons in America; a past president and present convention chairman, and one of the surgical, mission team leaders of the Society Of Philippine Surgeons in America.
He is married to a classmate in UST School of Medicine, Dr. Fe Joson Cacdac, and they have three children; Michele, Manuel Jr. and Marcel, and four grandchildren.
The Cacdacs believe in giving back not only to their homeland, but also to their community in Indiana. They are actively involved in the yearly fund raising telethon for UCP and Muscular Dystrophy. Every Thanksgiving, they donate and distribute food to poor and needy families in Terre Haute.
Since the 1990s, Dr. Manuel Cacdac and his wife Fe have been joining surgical missions to the Philippines, usually performing 300 to 500 surgeries each trip.
Working to turn a vision into a reality
Dr. Cacdac believes that being a doctor gives him a great opportunity to serve people, especially his fellow Filipinos.
“In this profession, one must learn to be caring and compassionate. Surgical skills (come) first, followed by (a) sincere and caring attitude, respect for patients and the ability to listen,” Cacdac said in an earlier interview.
Not resting on his laurels, Dr. Cacdac is now busily working towards his dream to have a hydrocephalus centre in Asia.
With his proven determination and compassion to help people, no doubt his vision will someday become a reality, to the advantage of countless children in the Philippines and in Asia.
(LA Weekend February 16-19, 2013 Sec. A pg.10)