Mike Rudon, Channel 5 Belize
K.H.M.H. Hosts Belize Spine Team
The words Belize Spine Program don’t immediately ring a bell, but there are Belizeans today who would not be walking without it. It was born in 2010 out of a partnership between the K.H.M.H. and Spine Overseas, an international surgical and education support program. Since then, orthopaedic surgeons and support staff have visited Belize regularly, and have collaborated with local medical professionals in thirty-six successful spine surgeries. This week they are back in Belize, and have come bearing very important gifts in the form of two cell-saver machines. Mike Rudon was at the handing over this morning and has the story.
This morning medical professionals from the K.H.M.H. and from Spine Overseas gathered to hand over two cell-saver machines. They will be used in critical spinal surgeries conducted at the KHMH as part of the Belize Spine Program. Dr. John Williams is the co-founder of Spine Overseas and with his team visits Belize twice a year on a medical mission.
Dr. John Williams, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Spine Overseas
“Spine Overseas is an organization that was born out of myself and Dr. Jim Youssef of Durango, Colorado and we enjoy what we do enough that we were looking for a way to give back, to simply provide our experience of patient care and technology to places that may not be exposed to these things.”
Dr. Adrian Coye, Chief Executive officer, K.H.M.H.
“This kind of partnership in this way has allowed Belize to be put on the map where spine surgery or spine programs may not exist everywhere else, in countries like Belize, so we are very, very blessed to have such great friendship that will help us to start a process where, as we would hope, our very own Belizeans grow into developing the skills and also to develop the abilities that will help our population.”
The Belize Spine Team is composed of spine surgeons from the US and Canada working along with local spine surgeons and K.H.M.H. staff. This week the team has planned seven surgeries, treating complex spinal pathologies like deformity.
Dr. John Williams
“Deformity can come out of nowhere, like for example adolescent idiopathic scoliosis – idiopathic meaning we don’t know where it came from, but it’s a very common problem. Scoliosis deformity in children if left untreated can become the crippling kind of spinal deformity that can actually affect not only the way we look, but the way our lungs and heart and internal organs function. that actually occurs in children. But the other deformity occurs from post-traumatic injury. So if a patient is in an auto accident or falls from a tall ladder or building and suffers a fracture to the spine, that can result in a deformity that is correctable surgically. It simply cannot correct itself, not without the help of instrumentation.”
Since the entire team only visits twice a year, all vetting and preparation is done by local neurosurgeon Dr. Javier Dupuy, who operates the neurosurgery clinic at the K.H.M.H.
Dr. Adrian Coye
“The patients are derived from the neurosurgery clinic that we have, and presently Dr. Dupuy would see patients that are referred. So from our collective network within Belize, people know that this program exists, and specialists would refer patients to the program by referring patients directly to Karl Heusner. He would screen those patients and prepare them. Some of them he would do before they come because they are less complex, but then the ones that are far more complex it would be that we wait for the team to come.”
Dr. John Williams
“He will arrange for you to be seen in the spine clinic when you are here. We can both meet you, examine you, look at your imaging studies and then come up with a treatment plan for you. And most spinal problems do not need surgical treatment, so in that regard you should be encouraged.”
According to Williams, a lot of spinal pathologies can be treated with physiotherapy, injections or oral medication. Mike Rudon for News Five