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Sep 27, 2012

Get healthy with Healthy Living

You met Alize Reid on September thirteenth, when we reported that she was among several children who were preparing to undergo cleft palate surgery at the Southern Regional Hospital. Well, Alize is now well on her way to recovery and Healthy Living caught up with her and her mother for an update on her condition.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

From September sixteenth to the twentieth, a team of eight visiting specialists have been hard at work at the Southern Regional Hospital for the World Pediatric Project’s Pediatric Clinic for Plastic Surgery. Included in the over forty surgeries they’ve conducted in the past four days has been the repair of little baby Alize’s cleft palate.


Roslyn Reid

Roslyn Reid, Mother of child with Cleft Palate

“They completely, completely covered the cleft so I don’t have to worry about anything much again, but her recovery which obviously is going very speedy for me because she is moving about a lot, already laughing, smiling from last night. The only thing is, “I’m hungry mommy.”


It is a relief for the young mother who had tried twice before to have her baby’s cleft palate repaired but due to Alize’s weight; they couldn’t do the repairs. One of the specialists who worked on Alize was Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Alan Burke. He explained why the proper weight is a requirement for the surgery.


Alan Burke

Dr. Alan Burke, Facial & Reconstructive Surgeon, World Pediatric Project Volunteer

“Cleft palate work is a little bit more of a challenge than cleft lip because we have palates that are more important for speech and swallowing and part of her whole weight issue may have been that she was a little malnourished because of inefficient eating. Because there is always a bit of blood that is lost with that surgery, we’d like for them to be a little fattened up to make sure it’s a safe surgery. Palate work is often a two sometimes three stage process that we try and get it closed the first time. And then the second time if speech isn’t quite right, there is then a functional palate plastic to get speech and swallowing fine tuned.”


Marleni Cuellar

“How did it go yesterday in surgery?”


Dr. Alan Burke

“They went really very well because as surgeons we like to grade ourselves.”


Marleni Cuellar

“So what’s your grade?”

Dr. Alan Burke

“I think we got an A yesterday.”


Marleni Cuellar

“No complications?”


Dr. Alan Burke

“None at all.”


Each year the world pediatric project conducts clinic. This voluntary mission has been going for over decade with close to fifty surgeries taking place each year. Dr Burke has been involved since the beginning.


Dr. Alan Burke

“I had always tried to come back to Belize—my mother being Belizean—and try and do some charity work here; facial plastics transferring pretty easily with just a needle and thread. And then I learnt that International Hospital for Children was looking for surgeon to help and so it was a very easy fit for me. Our initial motive was cleft lip and palate—there not being a specialty covered here—since we didn’t want to step on the feet of the ENT and the Head and Neck surgeons already here. And then as our work expanded, we then would do any of the facial plastics that happened to be available and we’d extend a little beyond pediatrics to just whatever the need was.”


Milagro Garel

Milagro Garel, Country Representative, World Pediatric Project

“We’ve seen children come from birth to twenty-one and some adults as well. And the level of severity; we’ve seen some children in the past and we are doing revision of scars for patients that have prior been unable to eat and we have a we have a couple outside that we are going to revise that now are doing really well. But we have a child like Alize, who as you know in your prior story, we are doing her palate. We also unfortunately had another baby who is a newborn cleft, but we were unable to see her because she also had a cardiac condition. So she is also going to take care of that through our partners, Gift of Life, and then we will revise her in another mission that comes in January.”


Dr. Alan Burke

 “The challenge for me is doing the surgery then leaving town; that;s a little stressful—wondering what they’ll be doing while we are gone and hoping that they heal well. But we’ve partnered with the surgeons here who’ve provided great post operative care and with all the fancy technological updates, we now keep in touch through the internet. Next year when she is older, we’ll check on speech and swallowing. The cleft kids will sometimes have a speech that wounds like it is coming through their nose or say when they drink liquids that too may come through their nose. And that may be a reason to do second stage surgery palate plastic. And so that is what we’ll be looking at next year.”



For Roslyn, this now means that she can place greater focus on Alize’s walking & talking.


Roslyn Reid

“Miss Garel, she, has already told me that they could help me with speech therapy and we are still doing therapy with Care Belize on her walking. In last week she started sitting up on her own—laying down and sitting up—so that is a big, big improvement from where she once was.”


World Pediatric Project works closely with the Ministry of Health and the local hospitals to provide specialized care to Belizean children like baby Alize.

Milagro Garel

“We encourage parents that as soon as they identify that something is wrong and they need surgical services that we are available and we want them to come to us as soon as they know something is wrong.”


Roslyn Reid

“It’s s a feeling that I can’t really describe or explain because knowing now that I could go sleep and that I don’t have to get up with her having a stuffy nose or can’t breathe that well. I could just take a good night’s rest after a whole year and eight months.”

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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