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May 19, 2017

Giving the Gift of Life for Needy Children

Hundreds of Belizean children are treated for congenital diseases annually, through the Rotary Club of Belize’s Gift of Life Program. This year, however, the program went a step further and rather than sending patients overseas, the visiting cardiologists from the U.S. successfully performed procedures on three children. It all happened at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Twice every year, visiting cardiologists from the U.S., who’ve partnered with the local Rotary Club of Belize, screen and in most cases provide medical care for children suffering from various heart diseases. In extreme cases, the pediatric patient would be airlifted to a hospital in the U.S. for life-saving medical procedure. But on Thursday, a medical team headed by Doctor Jeffrey Delaney successfully conducted procedures at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital on three children, between the ages of eleven months and four years.

 

Jeffrey Delaney

Dr. Jeffrey Delaney, Pediatric Interventional Cardiologist

“We identified several children with what’s called a patent ductus arteriosus, which is a blood vessel which all babies are born with. But in most babies it closes completely and goes away. If it doesn’t close, then those babies can have extra blood going to their lungs—making their lungs wet, making their heart enlarged and making the babies not be able to feed well, grow well and thrive. Previously, these babies have all needed to be sent out to other centers elsewhere in Central America and the United States to get treated, but we do have the CATH Lab here at Karl Heusner and this is typically a procedure which can be very well treated in the CATH Lab and not require surgery. You just need the catheters, devices, equipment and people to get it done. And these are the procedures that we do for the children when we tae them to Omaha.”

 

So how do you detect that your child has this condition”

 

Dr. Jeffrey Delaney

“Most of the time, unless the heart disease is more important like this, the children won’t have symptoms, but it might be something that when you take your child to the doctor they hear a sound, they hear something that makes them question and then we see the children in clinic and can diagnose whether it is something or not. But the children with more important heart disease, there are symptoms. The child may not be able to eat and drink normally because they are working too hard just to breathe.”

 

Rapid breathing and panting, as well as sweating and having trouble eating and failing to gain body mass are among some of the symptoms that indicated to Erica Hislop that something was wrong with her daughter. Eleven-month-old Rihanna McKay was one of the three children that were successfully treated.

 

Erica Hislop

Erica Hislop, Mother of Rihanna McKay

“When she born, she born premature, very small. She wasn’t gaining weight and she mi stay vomiting and she like stay having cough and cold; she was in and out of the hospital. They do a lot of checkup on her and they did a heart ultrasound and a lot of stuff on her. And I noticed that she wasn’t growing so I bring her at the hospital and they checked her and they say she has a murmur.”

 

Dr. Jeffrey Delaney

“It is out plan that these children are cured. Once this blood vessel is closed, the lungs should improve and normalize, their growth should normalize, their appetite, their energy level…everything should go back to normal; their heart should shrink back down to normal size. So this is really a rewarding procedure to do because you generally get an outstanding result.”

 

According to Chair of the Gift of Life Program, Jaimala Vasquez, for a consecutive time in a row, procedures are being done here in Belize, because it is cost-effective. This time, Doctor Delaney was able to raise the funds to do the procedures locally.

 

Jaimala Vasquez

Jaimala Vasquez, Chair, Gift of Life Program

“It was easier, he brought in his team, Doctor Hansen, the anesthesiologist and Doctor Adrian Coye from K.H.M.H. helped to make this possible to have it done here. Any of the simpler procedures done in the U.S., if they were to charge us would have cost us over forty thousand dollars. So we also have to thank all our hospitals that work along with us for doing these procedures for free. So it kinda makes the gift of life really a gift of life to children.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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