Noted Fil-Am cardiac surgeon honored

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By Cesar Candari
M.D, FCAP Emeritus

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, columnist of this paper and cardiac surgeon emeritus residing in Las Vegas and Northwest Indiana, was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award by his peers at the 40th Annual Scientific Convention Reception and Grand Ball at the Florentine Ballroom of Caesar’s Palace Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, on Saturday, July 27, 2019, attended by more than 250 participants from all over the United States and the Philippines.

Dr. Chua, who is well-known to his colleagues, friends, and readers, is a past president and Chairman of the Board of the medical alumni foundation established in 1972 in New Jersey.

He is an author and an international lecturer who has given talks in London, Prague, Beijing, Singapore, in major cities in the United States and in the Philippines). He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, the International College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society (of which he was the founding president), whose more than 800 members are cardiac surgeons from 50 countries who trained under the world-renowned heart transplant surgeon at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Dr. Cooley, who performed the first artificial heart in the United States.

In 1981, Dr. Chua was chosen by the Foundation as the Most Outstanding Alumnus at its 2nd Annual Scientific Convention and Reunion in Anaheim, California. He was honored with the coveted Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1995, the highest civilian recognition presented by then Indiana Governor (later US Vice-President) Evan Bayh.

In 1997, he and his Indiana cardiac surgery team flew to Cebu city to establish the cardiac surgery center at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he and his team later performed the first quadruple OPCAB (Off Pump Coronary Artery Bypass) surgery in the Philippines on a man from California visiting the country.

Dr. Chua was also a Gintong Pamana (Golden Legacy) awardee in Chicago in 2012. He and his cardiac surgery team, which included Dr. Victor O’Yek, had performed almost 2 dozen coronary bypass surgeries for free on patients at the Beijing Medical University First Hospital in China, witnessed by heart surgeons from various city hospitals in China.  Dr. Chua is chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States.

An amazing feat this cardiac surgeon has achieved which deserves to be in the Guinness Book of World Records: He and his wife Farida Isip-Chua, a retired pediatrician, have 5 children who are all physicians, four married to physicians as well, a family of 11 physicians. Their family get-together looks and sounds like a medical convention.

In 1965, Philip was president of the Philippine Medical Association of Chicago. Farida, who was trained at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, was president of the PMA Chicago Auxiliary in 1980. Philip is past president of the Association of Philippine Physicians in America (APPA) and the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America (SPSA). He was also Chief of Staff and president of the medical staff at St. Mary Medical Center in Gary and Hobart, the St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point, and the Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, Indiana. The Chuas have been in Sun City Summerlin, Las Vegas, since 1998.

Philip and Farida go on medical missions in the Philippines every year, together with a group of physicians, nurses, and allied healthcare providers, headed by Dr. Daniel and Melinda Fabito. I and my wife, Cely, have joined this annual mission to Kamay ni Hesus in Lucban Quezon a couple of years ago.

Dr. Chua’s very first medical mission was in 1962, a year after graduation, from medical school when he, then 26, became the pioneer volunteer of the Work-A-Year-With-The-People humanitarian project in the remote Sierra Madre town of Palanan, Isabela, established by then Senator Raul Manglapus, Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., and Manuel Quezon, Jr.  According to Wikipedia, “It was in Palanan that one of the final chapters of the Philippine-American War was written on March 23, 1901, when General Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by American forces led by Gen. Frederick Funston.” While in Palanan, Philip was able to convince and led the town government to erect a monument, a historical marker, to memorialize the event of 1901 which ended the Philippine-American War.

As president of the Student Philippine Medical Association (SPMA), whose membership included all medical students in all five medical schools in 1960, Philip, age 24 then, was a Grantee of the Asia Foundation and travelled to Israel as the Philippine delegate to the global convention of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA), where he read the official message of then Philippine President Carlos P. Garcia before the delegates from more than 50 countries at the General Assembly.

In 1986, as national president of the Association of Philippine Physicians in America, he led physicians and their family to a huge APPA balikbayan convention at the Manila Hotel and medical mission in various towns in the Philippines, with President Cory Aquino, Vice President Salvador Laurel, and Armed Forces Chief, Fidel V. Ramos, as the guest speakers.

The event was on the front page of almost every newspapers in the country. The medical mission to the Philippines thereafter became an annual humanitarian project of Fil-Am physicians to this day, 33 years later.

His book on disease prevention and healthy lifestyle starting in the womb and in the crib, Let’s Stop “Killing” Our Children, is listed in the US Library of Congress. This pro-active and pre-emptive health primer and guide is posted on philipSchua.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and Xlibris.com

The abbreviated summary of his bio-data is posted in “About the Author” on the website: philipSchua.com

Because Philip sometimes drives like he is in the Indy 500 Speedway, his wife Farida, a retired pediatrician, jokingly said his tombstone would say “He had the right of way,” but he said he would be satisfied with 3 words “A good man.” Knowing him very well, as our president of our medical Class ‘61, I would say “A great man,” would describe him best.

We, his peers and friends and the Las Vegas community, are happy, proud, and blessed that this highly recognized and celebrated cardiac surgeon and his wife are here with us in Vegas, the city of bright lights and sunshine. We are all richer because of this talented family of physicians.

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