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James Rey's Road to Surgery



James Rey was 6-years-old when we first met him in the Philippines in 2013. He was born with a bilateral cleft lip. His father was a fisherman who barely made enough to support the family of 7. Affording an operation would have been impossible…which is why Abounding in Love stepped in to help. Shortly after, we enrolled him in a medical mission in Cebu City that provided free cleft surgery.

Although I’d like to say that several years have passed since his successful cleft lip surgery, James’s story is much more complicated…

Unfortunately, he failed the screening process during the medical mission. The doctor discovered that James had a heart condition called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). A heart operation was now the top priority; cleft lip repair would have to wait.


The family was still waiting to qualify for a free heart operation in 2019. This is when, once again, their lives took an unexpected turn. James’s father went missing during an accident while fishing. He has not been seen since. James’s mother, Anabel, was now required to be the breadwinner of the family. She began working as a laundress and supports her 5 young children with a mere $76 per month. When Abounding heard about their situation, we began sending them a monthly allowance to keep them on their feet.

A poor mother in the Philippines with her 3 children, one of whom needs cleft lip surgery


Things took a turn for the better in the Spring of 2021 when James finally qualified for a free heart operation. The procedure occurred in Manila (April 14), in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Cebu, Let it Echo, and Gift of Life International. Everything went smoothly. The one big downside is that, due to his poor health history, James is now ineligible for any cleft medical missions.

Our Mission

To say it’s been a bumpy road for James and his family would be a serious understatement. The hardships they’ve faced over the past 8 years would test even the strongest of spirits. But they’ve braved through it and we’re still standing by them. And now we’re hoping that you will stand alongside us.

James is now 14-years-old and healthy enough for cleft lip surgery, a surgery that should have (in a perfect world) occurred in 2013. Since he is ineligible for regular medical missions, we had to explore other options. Thankfully, a local plastic surgeon has offered to perform the procedure for free. All we need to do is cover the hospital bill and laboratory expenses.

We’re not stopping there!

Their home currently has no electricity, running water, mattresses, or a proper kitchen. Anabel can’t even afford to buy school supplies for her children, she has a hard enough time putting food on the table. There are so many little ways we can make a big difference here…and if there’s a need, we intend to fill it!

The Fundraiser

I’ve outlined the details for the fundraiser down below. That should paint the full picture of what we’re trying to accomplish as well as the amount we’ve budgeted for every need.

A fundraiser for a young boy in the Philippines who needs cleft lip surgery.

Closing Thoughts

Most people turn a blind eye to stories like these, but you didn’t. By reading this far, you’ve demonstrated a tremendous amount of compassion for those in need. I, for one, find that truly inspiring. The fact is that these are real people with real problems…and they’re in desperate need of help. Our charity might not have the power to change the world, but together we have an opportunity to change 6 individual lives. That’s a good start in my book!

Lastly, for those who can’t afford to make a financial contribution, there are plenty of other ways you can help. You could share this story with friends and family, spread the word on social media, or even start your own fundraiser for James. The sooner we can get the word out, the sooner we can make this happen. Thank you!


Photo Galleries & Updates


July 14

James and his mother met with the surgeon (Dr. Senerpida) yesterday. He told us that he can operate on James this Friday morning at Velez hospital, assuming the laboratory results look good. James and his family have waited 8 years for this operation, so they are very excited.

July 15

Unfortunately, James Rey’s Long Road to Surgery just got a little bit longer. He was supposed to be admitted to the hospital today, but was required to take a Covid-19 test first. It was positive. The good news is that he’s asymptomatic so far. James will now need to quarantine for 2 weeks, after which, he’ll get retested. Dr. Senerpida said he can proceed with the surgery as soon as James gets a negative test result.

Needless to say, the family was very disappointed by the news. Hopefully, this is just a minor setback and James will continue to be asymptomatic. They have returned to their home in Northern Cebu for the 2-week quarantine period.

August 5

Good news! James Rey’s recent Covid-19 test was negative, so he’s been officially cleared for cleft surgery. He was admitted to the hospital today and the procedure is scheduled for Saturday, August 7. The family is very excited, especially James, who doesn’t appear to be nervous at all. He’s been waiting for 8 years and the time has finally arrived. This Saturday will mark a new chapter in his young life. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers this weekend.

August 8

We’re happy to inform you that James Rey had his cleft lip surgery last weekend! The operation took about 3 hours and everything went smoothly. We weren’t able to visit him in the hospital due to strict Covid-19 precautions, but he was discharged yesterday. James and his mother will be staying at the Abounding in Love facility while waiting for the follow-up appointment. We would like to give our deepest gratitude to Dr. Senerpida for conducting James' operation for free. Because of this, we were only required to pay for the hospitalization and lab expenses.

August 15

James had his final check-up with the surgeon a few days ago. We’re pleased to inform you that he is recovering well and was cleared to return home. The Abounding team drove them back to their home in Bantayan and brought groceries, a new mattress, school supplies, and gifts for the family.

It's not too late to donate! As of now, we have only accumulated 51% of the funds to cover the expenses for this project. Please contribute if you can and also share the fundraiser with friends and family. Thank you!

Thank You Message from James and His Mother

June 20, 2022

Last Saturday (6/18), we brought James Rey and his mother to Chong Hua Hospital for his second 2D Echo following his heart surgery in April 2021. We’re happy to report that the results were very good. According to the cardiologist, James’ pulmonary artery pressure is almost going back to normal now. However, we were advised that he should continue his medications and vitamins for the time being just to be safe. James Rey will return for a follow-up check-up this coming September and another 2D Echo in December.


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