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Oct 14, 2021

World Pediatric Project Continues to Help Belizean Kids, 20 Years Later

Over the past twenty years, hundreds of children in Belize have received advanced care through the World Pediatric Project. While the non-profit organization celebrates that milestone, there are still many in need of medical assistance. The program model is built upon long-term engagement and continuity of multi-specialty care and capacity-building. Tonight, News Five’s Isani Cayetano looks at a recent mission that has seen successful procedures being performed on a handful of children.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Five-year-old Orion Smith is attending his first consultation with a specialist at the World Pediatric Project.  Like many kids before him, he is here with a parent to seek expert medical advice or treatment from a visiting team of doctors.  His condition is called cephalohematoma, an accumulation of blood under the scalp.  During birth, the small blood vessels on Orion’s head, when he was a fetus, were broken as a result of minor trauma.


Royce Smith

Royce Smith, Father

“His one calcified, [it] became hardened and about roughly six, maybe seven weeks ago, he did mention to me that he had a headache.  So I figured that it was the perfect initiative to take him to do a little more checkup to know what’s going on, you know.”


Together, Royce Smith and his son traveled from Bermudian Landing for a session with Dr. Patty Lange, a pediatrician who is on a weeklong mission from Richmond, Virginia.  She’s been in several surgeries since arriving in Belize earlier this week.


Dr. Patty Lange

Dr. Patty Lange, Visiting Pediatrician

“Well we come typically every year around this time to do surgical care for children that can’t otherwise get it. This year is obviously a little different with COVID. We weren’t able to come last year and so this year we tried to also do some tele-visits, tele-health visits ahead of time, so it changed around a little bit how we typically work on things.  But we came Saturday and we immediately had a clinic to see some patients that would likely need surgery. We saw a few more patients Sunday and then we started operating

on Sunday afternoon.”


The World Pediatric Project has been in operation in Belize for the past two decades.  Over the years, many children have been assisted with various medical procedures through this initiative.


Khandice Tillett

Khandice Tillett, Belize Office, World Pediatric Project

“This is actually this team’s ninth time coming to Belize.  World Pediatric Project has been coming to Belize for the past eighteen years.  It’s actually our twentieth anniversary this year.  Due to COVID, we had to take a break last year so we had a lot of kids lined up for surgeries. However, with the strain on the health system right now, we were unable to do it at the KHMH which is our normal venue.  So the Belize Specialist Hospital opened their doors for us to do the surgical mission there and it was free of cost.  We ended up doing fifteen surgeries there.”


Among those who went under the knife was a three-month-old baby who was born with her intestines and other organs outside of her abdomen.  The condition of the newborn was a trending topic on social media recently.  A team of doctors tried its best to correct the condition.  Admittedly, after four hours of surgery, it has been their biggest medical challenge yet.


Dr. Patty Lange

“We took care of a baby that was born with a defect in her abdomen where her intestines kind of formed outside of the body and she is very malnourished and they had tried several surgeries before, trying to get everything back in where it’s supposed to be so her intestines can work properly.  So we brought some extra equipment and we worked together with the local pediatric surgeon here to provide that care.  We’ll see how she’s gonna do because she’s very young, very small, very sick.  But we’re trying to give her the best chance that we can, and so that was a little bit of a challenge because we weren’t sure that we would even be able to operate on her, that she would be able to survive any kind of surgery.”


As for the doctor’s medical opinion on Orion’s condition?


Royce Smith

“The doctor actually told me from her observation [that] there is another specialist team coming in who would be able to more give a diagnosis on what his condition is and what it’s gonna permanently be and so the next team that comes in, hopefully I can have him be here, hopefully we have health and strength, we could come back again and they could do a little bit more in-depth [diagnosis] to know what his condition is.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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