MANILA - Former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was preparing to undergo a kidney transplant ahead before his passing that shocked the country Thursday, his friends have said, as he battled ailments silently and privately after stepping down from office.
Citing a text message on June 3, former public works and highways secretary Rogelio Singson said over Teleradyo that Aquino went through dialysis and angioplasty to gear up for his kidney transplant.
He was just waiting for a "compatible" kidney donor, according to Singson.
"That was last time, but prior to that mahilig sa steak si boss... that happened in the last several months, nitong pandemic 'di na namin nabisita (we haven't visited him due to the pandemic)" he said over Teleradyo on Thursday.
In an interview at the Ateneo de Manila University, former Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said it took them a long time to convince Aquino to get the procedure given his condition.
Henares said that PNoy, as he was called by Filipinos during his term, initially thought that he was stealing someone's life and opportunity if he would accept a kidney.
Aquino was a known smoker, while his friends recalled that he liked eating fatty food and sugary drinks.
He died in his sleep early Thursday due to renal disease secondary to diabetes at the age of 61.
Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, meanwhile, said Aquino had a kidney malfunction in 2019, where he was sent to the intensive care unit.
This was when his health started to deteriorate, Pangilinan noted, just after the 2019 general elections and before the pandemic reached the country.
"Sunod-sunod na (it started after that). Hypertension also, I understand... the stresses I guess of his 6 years in office, and after which he stepped down he was still okay for the first 2 or 3 years. And then ayun na nga, the hypertension, diabetes, and the kidney malfunction," he explained in an interview on ANC, noting that he was still in shock with the development.
In 2015, at the height of the investigation into the death of 44 state troopers in the Mamasapano encounter, Aquino was rumored to have collapsed. Malacañang, however, denied this.
Aquino skipped the rites commemorating his father's death anniversary in 2019 because he was sick, his youngest sister Kris Aquino said back then.
He also revealed that he got pneumonia in November 2019.
He had been hospitalized several times prior to his death.
— With reports from Sherrie Ann Torres and Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News