Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Belize patients get help from Charlotte

Surgeons performed the first open-heart surgery in Belize this week thanks to equipment and assistance from Carolinas HealthCare System's International Medical Outreach Program, founded by renowned Charlotte heart surgeon Dr. Francis Robicsek.

Dr. Mark Stiegel, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute in Charlotte, performed the surgery with Dr. Adrian Coye, medical services director at Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. Their patient, a 72-year-old Belize man, is recovering after undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft Monday.

The surgeons expect to perform the second open-heart procedure, a mitral valve replacement, on a 56-year-old Belize woman Tuesday, July 17.

Although heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Belize, the country lacked a modern cardiovascular diagnostic and interventional facility until 2011, when the international outreach program began providing support. Before then, patients would either not receive treatment or would travel to neighboring countries.

The international program, a partnership between Carolinas HealthCare and the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte, donated and installed the country’s first fully-equipped cardiac catheterization laboratory in February 2011 at the Belize City hospital. The laboratory, also equipped with diagnostic imaging equipment, modernized cardiac care by 30 years.

Since October 2011, cardiology teams from Sanger have performed catheterizations in Belize each month and will continue to send teams until the hospital's own interventional cardiologist is trained to perform them alone.

The Charlotte program also helped make possible the first heart transplant surgery in Costa Rica in 2007 and co-founded the largest, most comprehensive heart institute in Central America, located in Guatemala City, in 1984.

Since the 1960s, the international program has donated a variety of medical equipment to hospitals and clinics worldwide. Robicsek's program raises money to refurbish and ship medical equipment that would otherwise be discarded by the Charlotte hospital system.

In addition to equipment, the program has provided free training for medical personnel from facilities globally. Coye and other medical staff from the Belize City hospital have visited Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte for educational experiences.


Belize hotel said...

We are grateful for these people of great heart for the great Ayudaa needy in Belize that can meet their treatment by these doctors and these medical campaigns, greetings