Rotary's gift of Life programme is offering heart surgery in Belize for pediatric cardiac surgeries.

Children with heart abnormalities form all over the country are here to receive treatment from doctors from Tampa Children's hospital. This is the first time heart surgeries are being conducted in Belize and Monica Bodden found out more:...

Monica Bodden reporting
Today this waiting room area at the KHMH was packed with parents from all over the country who have brought their young ones to seek specialized medical care - the kind that most of them cannot afford.

This is the first time in history that Belize is conducting a clinic for Pediatric cardiac surgeries - which are being done by a team of specialist from the Tampa Children's hospital along with Belize's very own Doctor Adrian Coye.

Doctor Paul Chai - Tampa Florida Children's Hospital
"I've been basically been helping Dr. Coye."

Monica Bodden
"How many patients have you guys seen so far?"

Doctor Paul Chai - Tampa Florida Children's Hospital
"We've don two today and we have one more waiting in the operating room. There are 7 of us here. There is me and my cardiac surgeon, a cardiologist, some nurse practitioners and echo cardiographers; we have 7 of us all together."

"I think that they have never done any kind of pediatric cardiac surgery here in Belize. These are some types of lesions that Dr. Coye and I felt that we could do here in Belize, so this was an opportunity for me to come down and help Dr. Coye do these operations to sort of get this program started in a sense of doing pediatric heart surgery here in Belize instead of furthermore straight type of lesions if they can be done here in the country without having to take them to a different country - we thought that was a great thing, so that's what we've been doing today."

Monica Bodden
"How risky are the operations?"

Doctor Paul Chai - Tampa Florida Children's Hospital
"They are not too risky; we purposefully pick operations that are not high risk. But even these types of operations can have significant risks if there is some bleeding or something like that, so as a whole they are low risk operations but low risk doesn't necessarily mean - they can turn into something high risk."

Yvette Burke - Rotary Gift of Life
"This I think is a monumental achievement for the Gift of Life program for Belize. It's the trust of the entire project throughout the world really because what you want to do is localize, you want to regionalize it. The economy gets difficult - it's not as easy for us to move every child abroad and it's also a complicated drawn out procedure - lots of families find it so hard to travel - they have never traveled. So being able to accomplish this in Belize is an absolute pleasure and I am so happy that I have lived to see it because it's something that I had always hoped for. Of course we have our have fabulously talented Dr. Adrian Coye back in the country and to have doctors like Dr. Paul Chai willing to come down here and contribute freely of his time and talents and skills to take care of our little Belizean children right here on the homeland soil - it's great!"

Most of the team of specialist will be in the country until Thursday and so they are encouraging those parents whose child have been diagnosed with a heart condition to stop by the clinic and take advantage of a practically free check-up.

Yvette Burke - Rotary Gift of Life
"They will be here until Thursday when Dr. Chai leaves and the other are staying a couple extra days but we are going to be doing clinics today still. We are mostly doing out districts patients today - it's going on simultaneously. We have the surgeries going on with Dr. Coye and Dr. Chai and then we have Dr. Henry leading the team doing the out-patient clinic where we find the children - new children and the follow up children like Neville and ensure that everything is going well with them. So it's been exceedingly busy, we'll be doing that today and tomorrow. Even if somebody didn't know about until they heard this interview tonight - if your doctor told you that your child is symptomatic in some way - may have a heart problem please come and we will see you. It would be a good idea though if you are coming from the districts to call us up so that we know you are coming and if we know 100% sure you are coming we will wait for you even if you can't get here right away. We will work until we see the last child who wants to see us whose parents are willing to come and wait for their turn. Karl Heusner charges us $10 for us to use their facilities and we offer the rest of it free through Gift of Life Belize and the partnership with Gift of Life Florida and Tampa Children Hospital."

And while we were at today's clinic, it was a pleasant surprise when 17 year old Neville Bermudez stopped by at the clinic. Neville had just arrived in the city from Tampa Florida - where he recently underwent another heart procedure.

You may remember him in 2005 - when he was desperately in need of a heart surgery. With help from the Rotary Gift of Life this has been Neville's 3rd procedure and he is doing extremely well.

Yvette Burke - Rotary Gift of Life
"Neville's case is so exciting. You will remember back in October 2005 Neville had a condition that absolutely threw him into a spiral and he was pretty much at death's door. We were able to air lift him out of here - I did it like what I did for burn kid - where I forwarded the money and then we raise money afterwards - of course Gift of Life Belize covering most of that, he got to Tampa Children Hospital where Dr. Chai fixed him up."

Neville Bermudez - Heart Patient
"I got my aortic valve fixed; I got a metal valve placed in there."

Monica Bodden
"How long were you there and where were you?"

Neville Bermudez - Heart Patient
"I got my surgery in Tampa. I was staying in Bonita Springs."

Monica Bodden
"How long were you there?"

Neville Bermudez - Heart Patient
"About 2-3 weeks. I have boundaries but I feel good."

Elizabeth Trapp - Mother of Neville
"It's a procedure where they removed the aortic valve and put in a mechanical valve which will be much better than before. I am so happy for the doctors that did it and I know Neville will be able to do so much better than before."

For more information you can contact the Gift of Life Belize at telephone number 610-3890 or 610-2299.

Channel 7