Six weeks ago, the first open heart surgery in Belize was performed the KHMH.

Today they celebrated another first: the first surgery for Scoliosis.

If you don't know what that is we didn't either. But we found out today when the KHMH held a press conference with their international partners who made the surgery possible.

Dr. Joel Cervantez - Nuero/Spine Surgeon
"To be part of this historic moment is something that you are going to cherish for the rest of your life."

Jules Vasquez reporting
He's talking about the first Scoliosis procedure to repair a curved spine:

Dr. Joel Cervantez
"Scoliosis is no easy task, it is something that when it affects our young children or growing adolescence they suffers, it means a lot of pain and socially speaking it means many times a lot of shame."

And in this case the patient was a 13 year old girl:

Dr. John Williams, Indiana-based Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
"This individual was a 13 year old female who was seen first by Dr. Cervantes and then by myself 6 months ago. At that time it was clear she needed an operation because her scoliosis had already began to progress. In fact between the time period that we saw her earlier this year and this week her curve had progress almost 20 degrees. She was really in a situation where without surgical treatment shoe would have develop a crippling form of scoliosis and really lived a life of misery and most likely lead to early death."

Dr. Andrew Moulton, New York based Pediatric Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
"Scoliosis is simply a cubature of the spine in this direction and it leaves people with tilt of their spine and often a bump on their back that can be pretty cosmetically difficult to accept. In addition and this becomes most apparent and develops in adolescence girls most often. If it gets large enough it can continue to grow as you get older. In order to treat it what we do is you know the spine is made of bones; one on top the next one from the skull down to the pelvis and we have to put little screws into each bones - these screws are very expensive, the involve sophisticated technology and the as we placed screws all the way up through the curve we create a place to seat a rod into the curve and each screw connects to the rod and we push the rod until its straight; so we take a curve, we put a rod in and push the rod to the screws so that the spine is straight."

One of those screws - called a pedicle screw - costs one thousand US dollars

Dr. John Williams, Indiana-based Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
"Two days ago we used 26 screws and two rod. In the United States those screws cost about US$1,000 each. So we are talking about an operation that the implants alone - the rod and screws that we used to correct the deformity can cost anywhere from $30,000 - $$80,000."

And in the states the entire procedure would have cost one hundred and fifty thousand US dollars - but in Belize.

Dr. Joel Cervantez - Nuero/Spine Surgeon
"For this patient of course the implants are a donation. So I do not think that with all the days in the hospital our Belizean patient would be paying more than BZ$1,000."

She is recovering well - and there is the hope for future procedures:

Dr. Joel Cervantez - Nuero/Spine Surgeon
"We want this to be a permanent project. We want this to be all inclusive. We want this to grow to a certain extent."

Dr. Andrew Moulton
"The Belize Spine program is designed to accommodate all types of spinal problems from the neck fractures, deformities conditions infections - we encourage people to look for us and the team at Karl Heusner Memoral Hospital to care for their spinal issues of all sorts."

Dr. John Williams
"We are absolutely committed to working side by side with local Belizean practitioners such that every day injuries that occur when we are not here will be cared for better and better as this program grows."

For Cervantez, the partnership is a far away dream come true:

Dr. Joel Cervantez - Nuero/Spine Surgeon
"When I sit down with my colleagues like Dr. Arriaga, Dr. Hidalgo, Dr. Ochoa and we talk to them about these experiences that we want to have - at first it's like are you crazy, but we've all been doing crazy things in our own form and bit by bit it goes taking a face." Two other less complex spine surgeries were also performed. The doctors who form the Belize Spine Program presently visit twice a year - but they hope to increase it to four. Notably, the visiting Doctors donated a cell-saver machine - similar to this one that we found on the internet. It enables the collection and return of a patient's own blood in cases where large quantities of blood are lost. It is valued at $40,000USDollars.

Channel 7