Madam President, it is my distinct privilege and honor to present to you Prof. Enrique T. Ona of Manila for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Professor Ona is the current Secretary of Health for the Republic of the Philippines.
Professor Ona was exposed to health care and the medical field at an early age. His family made their home in Pagadian City in Zamboanga, one of the southernmost provinces in the Philippines known for its natural beauty and multicultural population. His father was a physician who served as the first provincial health officer of Zamboanga while his mother was a nurse dedicated to the nutrition, growth, and development of infants and children. Professor Ona recalls that as a child, “Our house…was in front of the church and every day I would see dead people being brought there, and the coffins were so small. So as early as then, I already knew that many of those dying were kids, for lack of care and lack of education in care.”
Professor Ona received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of the Philippines in 1962. He completed his internship at Buffalo General Hospital, NY, and surgical residency at Long Island College Hospital. He then pursued a fellowship in surgery at the Lahey Clinic in Boston, MA. Next he completed a research fellowship in experimental surgery in New York under the mentorship of the late John Madden, MD, FACS. Professor Ona went on to become the Colombo Scholar in Organ Transplantation at Cambridge University in England under the mentorship of Sir Roy Yorke Calne, MD, FACS. The focus of his professional life has been on transplantation surgery and the impact of organ failure on public health.
Professor Ona is recognized as a master surgeon, a dedicated teacher, and an innovative researcher. For more than 30 years, he has been a professor of surgery at the University of the Philippines and has served as chair for sections of surgical education, general surgery, thoracic surgery, and cardiovascular surgery. Ultimately, he created the division of organ transplantation in 1986. He provided leadership at all levels in the department of surgery and was named the Enrique Garcia Professor of Surgery. He has delivered many invited and honorary lectureships, which are too numerous to list here. Professor Ona has been the editor of several peer-review journals, the editor of the Philippine Textbook of Surgery, and the author of 64 peer-review publications detailing his research in transplantation. He received the Outstanding Health Research Award from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development in 2010.
Professor Ona is the founding transplant surgeon of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in the Philippines and served as its executive director for 11 years before being appointed the Secretary of Health. He has also served as the president of the Transplantation Society of the Philippines since 1989. For more than a quarter century, his vision, leadership, and hard work have resulted in immeasurable improvements in the care of patients who require transplant surgery. As a result, he received the Presidential Award of Recognition for Organ Transplantation in 2000 and the Distinguished Service Award from the Philippine Medical Association in 2004.
Professor Ona served as the president of the Philippines College of Surgeons and as the chair of the Philippines Board of Surgery. He has been an ACS Fellow since 1973 and functioned as the Governor of the ACS Philippines Chapter.
On June 29, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III appointed him as Secretary of Health for the Republic of the Philippines.
Madam President, it is with great pride that I present Prof. Enrique T. Ona—a surgeon whose work is now to care for the health of a nation—for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons.