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Aug 21, 2012

Gift of Life saving heart surgery for kids

A month ago we told you about the successful open heart surgeries carried out by Dr. Adrian Coye at the K.H.M.H; they were the first in the history of Belize. Well, Dr. Coye has done it again; with the assistance of Dr. Paul Chai of the U.S.A, he carried out three successful pediatric heart surgeries. The children, who are a part of the Rotary’s Gift of Life program, are now in post-surgery observation and are said to be doing extremely well. The demand for pediatric cardiac care continues to increase in Belize. Since the inception of the project over thirty years ago, the Rotary Club of Belize has been able to provide life saving heart surgeries for more than three hundred children. News Five’s Andrea Polanco stopped in at the second day of the Gift of Life Clinic at the K.H.M.H.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Three children, through the Gift of Life Program, completed heart surgeries at the K.H.M.H. on Monday and Tuesday. The procedures were done by K.H.M.H’s Dr. Adrian Coye along with a team from Tampa Children’s Hospital. This is the first time the pediatric cardiac surgeries are being done in Belize.


Heidi Hess

Heidi Hess, Nurse Practitioner, Specialized in Cardiac Co

“We’re really, really, really pleased to be able to do surgeries this year in Belize, with your own surgeon, Dr. Adrian Coye. Those children had a blood vessel open in their heart that is supposed to be closed on its own and that is called a PDA. The children are doing great. We did two yesterday and one today. Dr. Coye is a gifted surgeon. We did bring one of our surgeons down here just to hang out with him and watch over and to give him that moral support. But we feel very confident that he will be able to do this surgery on his own from now on.”


As a part of the program, young children from across the country are attending a two day clinic to seek pediatric cardiac screening and follow-ups, some of whom may have to undergo surgery in the U.S.; something that majority can’t afford; . But Mala Vasquez, Chairperson of the Gift of Life Program, says that the Rotary Club of Belize and international partners incur the cost for surgeries abroad.


Mala Vasquez

Mala Vasquez, Chair, Gift of Life

“Usually we have two clinics for the whole year; one happens in February and that team comes in from Omaha and then we have one in August, and this team is from Tampa. What we do is, the kids that come from previous clinics come back for follow up and the new ones that come in, then the doctor screens them to see how urgent it is to see them to get work done and what happens is that they place them in separate institutions all over the U.S. Surgeries are done at different locations and of course, that is why we fundraise. Surgery is done for free in the U.S and Rotary Club of Belize; they undertake all the other expenses. What is different about today, I have to mention, kudos to the K.H.M.H. and Dr. Adrian Coye. We’ve done three surgeries here and so it is record breaking and it is momentous moment for all of us here.”


Nurse Practitioner, Heidi Hess, who specializes in caring for children with cardiac conditions, says that the impact of offering pediatric cardiac surgery in Belize is huge.


Heidi Hess

“It is very significant because every year there are children that are born with heart problems and a number of them need to have surgery; and every time a child in Belize is born with a heart defect that needs surgery, they have to go to another country. This is a very big challenge for a family to have to do something like that so, to be able to have some of these surgeries here completed in your own country it must absolutely means everything in the world to the family.”


In total, the clinic saw over seventy-five children.


Mala Vasquez

“We did about between fifty-three and fifty-eight yesterday. Follow-ups, we did about another thirty. Of course, the doctors had to see one of the babies that flew down from P.G. in the emergency care and also visited some of the babies in the ward.”


The cardiac conditions, as Hess explains, may require surgery; but a number of cases are not as severe.


Heidi Hess

“Well, we see a lot of children who don’t have a structural problem with their heart, but they have complaints of chest pains and in actuality that’s really one of the number one things that cardiologists see in their offices all around the world; and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the heart. And then on the other hand, we do see children that frequently have holes in their heart and we need to get those closed.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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1 Response for “Gift of Life saving heart surgery for kids”

  1. Storm says:

    To all the generous people, both Belizeans and Americans, who are giving so much to save lives here, I just can’t thank you enough.

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