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Aug 24, 2012

1st spinal surgery in Belize, success at the K.H.M.H.

The Belize Spine Program is supplemented by a U.S. based team that currently travels to the country twice a year. On Wednesday the team along with Belizean counterparts completed the first scoliosis surgery in the Jewel. The surgery to rehabilitate the twisted spine of thirteen year old Corozal resident Valerie Sosa, took place at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. It was quite successful and the teen is expected to be on her feet very soon. The U.S. team along with K.H.M.H.’s resident Neurosurgeon, doctor Joel Cervantes spoke to the media about the spinal program this morning inside the K.H.M.H.’s conference room.


Dr. Joel Cervantes, Resident Neurosurgeon

Joel Cervantes

“Scoliosis is no easy task; it is something that when it affects our young children, affects our growing adolescents, they suffer. It means a lot of pain and socially speaking, it means a lot of pain. So to be part of this historic moment is something that you will cherish for the rest of your life; you want this to be a program that is going to last forever. And I have to say thanks to everybody involved—of course Miss Kerry George, Dr. John Williams, Dr. Andrew Molton; who being a person highly specialized in scoliosis surgery took of his time and his effort to come down to Belize and help out. Of course they are many others persons on the team, Miss Caitlyn McCullock and two other members on this occasion who came down to Belize.”


Andrew Molton

Dr. Andrew Molton, Spinal Surgeon

“The spine is made of bones, one on top of the next one from the skull down to the pelvis. And we have to put little screws in each bone. These screws are very expensive; they involve sophisticated technology.  And as we placed screws all the way up through the curves, we create a place to seat a rod into the curve and each screw connects to the rod and we push the rod till it is straight. So we take a curve put a rod in and push the rod to the screws so that the spine is straight. And then we fix it all straight and then the bone becomes solid.”


Kerry George, Coordinator, Nurse Clinician

Kerry George

“We are committed to helping the people of Belize; we are committing to addressing the patient care, education which involves the entire team from nursing staff to O.R. Theatre staff, sterilization. The team down there is fabulous. We brought in all these different implant trays and instruments and they are wonderful at understanding what it takes to turn those instruments sets around, get them into the OR for us. It is great. We come with things and they adapt. Belize is amazing. The last thing is resources. We live in a country that has a lot of resources and Doctor Williams is committed to making sure that he is operating here in Belize the same way that he would operate in the U.S.”


John Williams

Dr. John Williams, Spinal Surgeon

“The correction involved is taking the bent spine and straightening it and then holding it till it heals to remain in that position. In order to do this, two days ago, we used twenty-six screws and two rods. In the United States, those screws cost about one thousand dollars U.S. each. So we are taking about an operation that the implants alone—the rods and screws we used to correct the deformity—can cost anywhere from thirty to eighty thousand dollars. There is a company in the United States called NuVasive and I owe them a great deal. They have been willing to step up to the plate and support this effort because I could come down here all day long and talk about things, but if Doctor Molton did not have the screws and rods to correct that deformity, the surgery could not be done. And for this particular effort, NuVasive, a company out of San Diego, California, is responsible for allowing this patient to have a newly sound life and avoid crippling scoliosis.”


The Pedicle screws and spinal implants were donated by NuVasive Spine Foundation.  The cost of this surgery in the U.S.A. ranges from ninety to one hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars but because of the donation, it will cost the Sosa family in the range of eight hundred to one thousand Belize dollars.

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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2 Responses for “1st spinal surgery in Belize, success at the K.H.M.H.”

  1. Storm says:

    Thanks to all who generously gave money, time, and skill to bring this medical advance to the Jewel. Sincere private programs like this bring progress more surely and effectively than any government program I can think of.

  2. LADY says:

    This is God’s gift to man for us as human beings to be helping each other.At the same time In Belize why do we have doctors specializing in different fields and the government pays them for not doing the job they had studied to do.In other words why do Government not spend their / BELIZEANS money or invest in equipments for these doctors to use to not only save lives but to UPGRADE the delivery of HEALTHCARE in BELIZE. The doctors are loosing what they have learnt at medical school.BETTER could be done in Belize.The people needs to DEMAND service from their representatives and not wait for election time to collect one hundred dollars from electorates. Healthcare, Education, Housing and YOUR LIVE is worthe more than $100.00/one hundred dollars/ a blue note. Wake -up BELIZEANS. AIDS is very high and Belizeans are getting poorer. WAKE -UP MY PEOPLE. I hate to say it but I LOVE YOU.

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