Julian and Michael Omidi have long been involved in sponsoring charitable causes that range from standing up to animal abuse to delivering aid to the poor around the world. Aside from donating money and initiating fundraising programs, however, the Omidi brothers also like to go beyond the usual philanthropic efforts. Indeed, in certain exceptional cases, they actually roll up their sleeves and put their skills to directly assist those in need. A remarkable example of their propensity for direct involvement in charitable work took place in the summer of 2013 when Julian and his mother, Cindi, sponsored Michael Omidi’s mission to travel to Philippines and operate on a man suffering from a massive neck lump caused by a thyroid goiter.
The 20-year-old patient in question had lived with his condition for 10 years. Since his large neck mass set him apart from the rest of people in his village, he found himself alienated from the rest of community, unable to keep a stable job or maintain a romantic relationship. Incapable of supporting himself financially, the man had been living with his aunt and her 6 children since both of his parents had passed away a while ago. For many years, he had been trying unsuccessfully to seek medical care for his condition by applying for various social programs that sometimes covered his doctor visits, but were generally insufficient to provide for any sort of effective treatment.
When local physicians advised him to undergo tests such as MRI and CT scan, he often found himself unable to follow up on these recommendations. In the absence of adequate medical facilities in his village, the patient’s only option was to travel to the cities in order to have the aforementioned diagnostic procedures done. Unfortunately, not only did he lack the funds to travel, but his social programs did not even cover the tests. Making the mattes worse, local medical facilities required a long wait to undergo the MRI and CT scan, thus delaying the much-needed treatment.
Upon hearing the patient’s story, Julian and Cindi Omidi promptly gathered the funds to organize a charitable mission and deliver assistance as quickly as possible. To ensure success of the mission, the Omidi family also reached out to Yolanda Abaca, an experienced nurse and philanthropist who helped organize social workers and handled communications with the governor. Her daughter, Maria Abaca, oversaw the surgical details of the medical mission and, working closely with Yolanda, took care of innumerable tasks in preparation for the trip. The success of this mission could not have been possible without their invaluable contributions.
When Dr. Michael Omidi, a renowned plastic surgeon based in the Los Angeles area, arrived in the city of San Miguel, Bulacan Province, to perform an in-person exam, he was greeted with scorching heat. With the temperature outside being as high as 105 degrees, the patient came in wearing a scarf around his neck, immediately raising concerns about the severity of his condition but also attesting to his longstanding plight. Given the urgency of the situation and a limited amount of time at their disposal, Dr. Omidi and his staff quickly made arrangements for a CT scan. In order to guarantee safety of the procedure, they also made a thorough assessment of the facilities at a district hospital and, upon finding them inadequate to handle cases of this magnitude, insisted on access to the university hospital. In order to secure approval, Dr. Omidi convincingly demonstrated that the patient would need blood work, access to intensive care unit, and potent medications to manage the cardiovascular status (e.g., drop the pressure around large vessels, increase the blood pressure, ventilator to manage the airway overnight).
On the first day of surgery, Dr. Omidi and Dr. Lee Au removed the tumors from the front section of the neck. Following this procedure that took 16 hours, the patient remained in the intensive care unit overnight, intubated on the ventilator. On the second day, the patient was brought back to the operating room and Dr. Omidi spent an additional 8 hours to remove the tumors from the backside of the neck.
In the end, the surgery was a resounding success. All the tumors were removed along with half of the thyroid that was responsible for causing the neck mass. Dr. Omidi and his staff were careful to ensure that there were no injuries to any of the numerous nerves in the head and neck area. The patient recovered well and was sent home 4 days after the surgery.
In the months that followed, the Omidi brothers kept in touch with the patient who has now effectively assimilated back into his community. He no longer has to wear a scarf in the midst of a summer heat to earn acceptance from the townsfolk. The last time we have heard from him, this man has found a girlfriend and is currently studying at the local university to realize his goals of entering the construction industry. His dream is to build a new house for his aunt who lives in an old and rundown shack.
Sometimes, it takes not only financial assistance but also personal commitment and hard work to make a difference in someone’s life. At the end of the day, Julian and Michael Omidi know that helping a fellow human being in need is worth every effort, penny, and time spent.