Nobel Prize Winner Dies:Refused Admission to Manila Hospital

Are you planning a visit to the Philippines or do you already live in this archipelago of 7,107 islands? If so, you should be concerned about today’s post: “Nobel Prize Winner Dies:Refused Admission to Manila Hospital.” Nobel Laureate Richard Heck died in Manila on Saturday, October 10, following a bout of severe vomiting earlier in the week. He was in the philippines

Heck won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry, along with Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, for inventing new ways to bind carbon atoms. The results were used in researched for combating cancer and producing thin computer screens.

Although Heck won a Nobel Prize in chemistry, illnesses left Heck surviving on a monthly pension of $2,500, over 115,000 pesos. Heck’s one third of the prize share in 2010 amounted to 409,747 U.S. dollars, 18,901,330 pesos.

He retired in the Philippines in 2006 along with his Filipina wife, Socorro Nardo-Heck, whom he met at a Manila restaurant while visiting the Philippines in 1979. Socorro died two years after Heck won his Nobel prize.

Two personal nurses took turns caring for Heck during the past year, according to a report from GMA News. He had been in and out of the hospital since 2013, when he survived a serious bout of pneumonia.

One of the nurses, Jane Rose Pido, said Heck was rushed to a private hospital in Manila due to severe vomiting.

Heck, however, was reportedly turned away due to unpaid bills.

Of being turned away, Pido told GMA News, “It was painful to see, that the man was fighting for his life but he was left to die, because he did not have money. How could it end up like that? We didn’t know which hospital to take him to, so much time was lost. He could have been revived.”

Forced to take Heck to a public hospital, Pido said his vital signs deteriorated rapidly, until he died.

Speaking of the Nobel laureate, Pido said the American always talked of going back to the US. “We nearly fought,” she said, “because he was insisting that he wanted to go back to the US.”

“He would get his walker, walk outside the house and wait for a taxi, and he would say he was going to the airport to return to the US,” GMA News quoted Pido as saying.

I suffered a severe kidney stone attack in 2010 and was sent, via pump boat, to a private hospital in Iloilo City. The hospital would not admit me until 10,000 pesos was paid up front, about 217 US Dollars.

The money was paid. I was admitted. Discharged the next day with a prescription to shrink my kidney stones, I was not allowed to leave unless my bill was paid in full. You have to get past an armed guard with a special clearance proving that the bill has been fully paid. That is contrary to Filipino law, which many people ignore anyway, but we paid the bill and headed back home to our home province, Guimaras.

It’s a shame that Richard Heck’s life was lost. Keep this story in mind next time you visit your local hospital in the Philippines and be prepared for all scenarios.

(Source: with thanks to my Canadian friend for the story link

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