Belize Rotarians doing wonders

Three children with heart conditions had low-risk cardiac procedures performed on them by Belize’s own Dr. Adrian Coye, assisted by Dr. Doctor Paul Chai of Tampa Florida Children’s Hospital, at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, on Monday, August 20.

The surgeries were the work of the Gift of Life Program, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Belize, which offered free pediatric heart services to almost 100 children on Monday and Tuesday.

The Gift of Life program invites parents to bring their children who have either been diagnosed with or suspected of having heart abnormalities and have them screened to evaluate the severity of the condition.

Rotarians of Belize through the Gift of Life Program hold clinics twice a year, in January and August.

The program brings in cardiac specialists from the United States to screen children for heart related issues. The cases are then sorted and the most urgent ones are selected for surgery.

Once a child makes it to the priority list, the Rotary Club will source what hospital in the U.S. can  take care of the child and when this can be done.

Rotary Club of Belize covers all expenses, from the cost of the screening, the travel, accommodations abroad, and the surgery itself.

The Gift of Life program is  a composite  of a vast network of organizations and individuals such as Dr. Bryer along with the Burton Foundation, which matches his donation of approximately $10,000.

Participating hospitals are found in Omaha, Tampa, New Orleans and Guatemala.    .

The program sent its first child to the U.S. for surgery in 1977, and has since sent more than 300 children. Mrs. Mala Vasquez, Chair of the Gift of Life Program in Belize, calls this year’s efforts “record breaking”  because some of the more manageable surgeries are being done right here.

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