Port Coquitlam man turns vacation injury into opportunity to aid hospital

Port Coquitlam bus driver John Abou-Samra says he wants to give back to the hospital that helped him after he was injured on vacation in the Philippines.

B.C. man pledges to buy $30K worth of equipment for hospital that helped him in the Philippines

John Abou-Samra enjoying Kayangan Lake, Philippines, moments before his leg went through the pier underfoot. (John Abou-Samra/Facebook)

A Port Coquitlam man is turning a vacation injury into an opportunity to give back to the hospital that helped him in the Philippines.

John Abou-Samra was on holiday in Coron, Phillippines — a popular tourist spot with lagoons, coconut tree lined beaches and popular dive sites.

Abou-Samra, who works as a bus driver in Port Coquitlam, B.C., was on a tour at a lake when he fell through a wooden pier. 

"My right leg sank all the way from my ankle to my hip between two pieces of wood. I got lots of scratches and bruises all over my leg from both sides," he explained.

Luckily Abou-Samra wasn't seriously wounded or bleeding. A tour guide helped him out of the water and his scraped leg was treated with ice and cool water.

The next day, however, Abou-Samra felt nervous about his leg and decided to go to the hospital for a check-up.

When he arrived at Coron District Hospital, he was shocked by the spartan conditions at the hospital.

"[They] had excellent service [and it was] spotless, but they lacked many machines in the hospital," he explained.

Listen to the interview on CBC's On the Coast:

Local man pledges to buy about $30K worth of equipment for the Philippines hospital that helped him 7:03

Abou-Samra was touched by the kindness of the staff and that night, he began to pray about a way to help the hospital.

The next day his doctor said he was welcome to make a small donation, pointing out a donation box in the reception area.

But Abou-Samra told the doctor he wanted to donate more than a few dollars.

He wanted to donate $30,000, or all the money he had saved for his post-retirement vacation — a round-the-world cruise.

"That's what God told me the night before. The same money I would spend on the cruise I would donate it to the hospital," he said.

"[The doctor] looked at me and he was very emotional."

Important but needs to be carefully done: WHO

The World Health Organization says many hospitals in the developing world have significant equipment shortages and often rely heavily on private donations for equipment.

For example, it estimates that international donors or foreign governments fund up to 80 per cent of the medical equipment in some countries.

However, the WHO also cautions that sometimes good intentions can end up becoming a burden on recipients if not executed carefully.

It recommends interested donors follow its guidelines like making sure recipients are actively engaged in the process and carefully considering regulatory and policy considerations.

John Abou-Samra holding up a receipt for the medical equipment he ordered for Coron District Hospital as a thank you to the staff for their compassion. (Lito Howse/CBC)

For his part, Abou-Samra says he is currently coordinating with the Filipino community and consulate in Vancouver to send the equipment.

He says he has ordered $16,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment for Coron District Hospital.

"These machines ... they will be serving them for years to come," he said assuredly.

With files from On The Coast