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Jan 26, 2015

A Look at Rotary’s Gift of Life Program

The Rotary Club of Belize’s Gift of Life Program is well received by families whose loved ones suffer from congenital disease. The program is the flagship initiative of the Club and this year, the visiting cardiologists will be treating over a hundred young people by the time they conclude their mission for patients from Belize City, Corozal, Orange Walk and Dangriga. Duane Moody caught up with them at the K.H.M.H. in Belize City and has this report.


Doctor Jeffrey Delaney, Pediatric Cardiologist

“We do a physical exam and a history and talk to the parents and then if they need it, we get an ultrasound and check on their heart and then we are able to put it all together for the parents and give them instructions and follow up.”


Duane Moody, Reporting

The annual Gift of Life clinics of the Rotary Club of Belize commenced today at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in the Old Capital. Children, primarily below the age of eighteen, along with their parents would gather, and in some cases wait for hours, for that life-changing opportunity for the child to be diagnosed or to get a checkup for a chronic heart condition. After proper diagnosis, a recommendation is then made as to whether they will need out-of-country medical assistance.


Errol Robateau

Errol Robateau, President, Rotary Club of Belize

“Last year, we served about a hundred and forty different children with the congenital disease. For those who don’t know, it is children with holes in their heart. Unfortunately along the lines, we have lost some of these children but it has been very few because once their prognosis is caught in time, then the doctors are able to help them.”


Interventional pediatric cardiologist, Doctor Jeffrey Delaney, has been coming to Belize for the past six years. He, along with a team of medical practitioners, has been assessing the patients. In day one of the clinic, which focuses on Corozal Orange Walk and Cayo, Doctor Delaney says he has been seeing children with two different congenital diseases.


Jeffrey Delaney

Doctor Jeffrey Delaney

“A lot of the problems are problems the children are born with. It can be holes in the heart that let the blood flow in an abnormal direction or in an abnormal volume that puts a strain on the heart. They can have valvular disease where the valve doesn’t open and close properly. We’ve seen both of those problems this morning—holes in the heart and valvular disease. You can have problems with the heart muscle itself, where the squeeze of the heart muscle is poor and we’ve taken care of kids like that in Belize and fortunately we haven’t seen anybody with that problem yet today, but that can always happen.”


Thousands of persons have benefited and continue to benefit from the program which started on a small scale back in 1977. Twelve year old Angelita Baiza was diagnosed back in 2011. She has since had surgery and is living a normal childhood with medication.


Juanita Baiza

Juanita Baiza, Mother of Angelita Baiza

“From when she was born, she was in a condition that she could not breathe and her nails got purple. We went to the doctors in Orange Walk and they never found what she had. When she was nine, they found out that she had a hole in her heart.  She’s fine right now. She is growing very rapidly in her recovery. We are just here for a follow up.”


Duane Moody

“She had a surgery?”


Juanita Baiza

“Yeah. I think she has like three years now.”


Doctor Jeffrey Delaney

“The kids down here are getting great care in between our visits and the kids that I’ve seen that have had prior procedures are doing very well. Some of them have very complicated heart diseases and they are doing well and they are taking their medicine. I’ve also seen some children where they were concerns for heart disease, but fortunately we were able to give them good news today that their heart is fine. So we’ve seen the gamut—completely healthy children and children with very complex problems, but everyone’s doing good so far.”


A group of medical doctors from Florida also come to Belize during the summer to carry out local follow up clinics with patients. Duane Moody for News Five.


On Tuesday, the clinic will be held for Belize City residents and on Wednesday, the team heads to Dangriga for residents of southern Belize. 

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