Dubai: Norman Montibon, 40, hogged the limelight during his prime as the frontman for his band. Now, in a sudden twist of fate, he’s fighting a double kidney failure for which the only long-term solution is a costly kidney transplant.
In his salad days, Montibon fronted the R’n’B and dance band, Hip2Soul, performing in five-star hotels in Asia — from Hong Kong to Tokyo — for eight years.
In 2007, he and his band moved to Dubai and wowed music aficionados at Ratsky, a popular hangout in town for hard-rock junkies.
At about that time, he gave up smoking and alcohol. A year later, he decided to quit singing and take up a job as a barista earning Dh3,500 a month, and at times, supplying food to Dubai construction workers from a containerised store.
“I’ve always known and enjoyed night and band life. It was fun for a while, but I decided to downscale and live a quieter life,” he said, adding he turned to basketball, the gym and healthier food.
“I put on weight.”
In October last year, when he started a slimming regime, something went terribly wrong. Following a bout with on-and-off fever, loss of appetite, dizziness, chills and cramps, Montibon was diagnosed with kidney failure.
After a second opinion by a doctor confirmed the condition, he started dialysis on January 29, 2013. “I am aware that kidney transplant is beyond my means,” he said.
“There are moments when I feel weak due to my condition, but my friends and family keep me strong.”
Today, due to his condition (which includes thrice-a-week dialysis at Ajman’s Shaikh Khalifa Hospital), Montibon is unable to find a job and his visa is undergoing cancellation. His friends pitch in for his medications, which cost around Dh1,000 per month.
“I don’t have a family history of kidney failure,” said Montibon. He suspects his condition may have been made worse by a long-held habit of drinking fizzy drinks instead of water after meals.
“I was also into salty food.”
Some of his friends appealed to Manila-based charities, while those in the music industry staged charity shows to help him, the latest of which was held on August 2 featuring several of Manila’s leading bands who gathered for jam-for-a-cause session in Makati.
Montibon said that he has not lost hope. He said he is encouraged by the recovery of a fellow musician, Philip Sangalang, who had a long bout with kidney trouble, but is now back in the music circuit after recovering.
“For the moment, I want to forget about my illness and live a normal life. I am well. It’s just cough and cold. Tomorrow, I’ll be fine… Of course, I’m only dreaming. But I won’t stop believing… God is great.
“I still want to live, spend time with my loved ones. I appeal to the innate goodness of people who have the ability to help me in this greatest performance of my life,” he said