UPDATE! Click on Nairaj

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THE GIFT OF LIFE PROGRAM

The Gift of Life, Inc. is a Rotary program which provides life-saving heart surgery for children around the world. These children come from countries where such advanced surgical techniques are not available to them. Their families do not have the means to afford the expenses of travel to, and surgery in a country that does.

The Rotary Club of the Bronx, NY has sponsored 12 children as of November 2010 and is looking forward to more with funds raised and donated especially for this purpose.

The first child sponsored by the Bronx Rotary Club was Gabrielle Medina of Honduras in 2001. She was followed in 2003 by Donald Lika from Albania, Nairaj Budnarine from Guyana in 2005, Luis Montero from the Dominican Republic in 2006, and Jeaninior Henock Fify from Haiti in early 2007. The Club's enthusiasm for the Gift of Life program really took off and 2 more children were sponsored in 2007. They were Amela Zadeja of Albania and Chizaram Chibueze from Nigeria.

The Club finds a host family and provides pick-up and transportation to and from the airport and hospital. Currently, surgical services are donated by Dr. Suvro Sett and his surgical/nursing team at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center and Dr. Samuel Weinstein and his cardiothoracic team at Montefiore Medical Center. The Club raises $6,000 per child to cover hospital costs and other expenses.

 

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A sweet thank you note from Amela Zadeja

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Gabrielle Medina from Honduras received her Gift of Life surgery in 2001.

 

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Donald Lika from Albania received his life-saving surgery in 2003.

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Nairaj Budnarine arrived from Guyana with his mother Pria in 2005. The 2 halves of his heart did not join properly which resulted in leakage. Dr. Sett joined the halves with dacron during the surgery at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.

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Nairaj is cuddled post-surgery by his grandmother. They stayed with hosts, Corpus Christi Monastery.

 

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Luis Montero from the Dominican Republic is shown with host Megan Charlop and his mom. Luis had his surgery in 2006. His situation was desperate as you can tell from his blue coloring in the photo. Doctors later said that without the surgery he would have had only weeks to live.

 

 

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A post-op Luis beams at a Rotary luncheon. What a change!

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Jeaninior Henock Fify from Haiti had his surgery in 2007. Jeaninior's heart had more problems than were first anticipated by his doctors, resulting in a complicated surgery. He suffered several strokes as a result and endured a prolonged hospital stay. As you can see from his photo above however, he is now doing well.

Amela

Amela Zadeja from Albania had her surgery in April of 2007. She and her mom Rita were hosted by relatives here.

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Mom Rita, Amela and aunt are treated to a festive luncheon during a weekly Bronx Rotary Club meeting in celebration of her successful surgery. Amela and her mom had extended visas so they were able to remain in the U.S. long enough to attend the President's/Paul Harris Dinner Dance in June. Everyone there was so excited to meet her.

 

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Amela sent the Rotary Club this photo along with a card expressing her thanks.

Chizaram_ChibuezeChizaram Chibueze from Nigeria also had his surgery in 2007.

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Chizaram is pictured pre-op with his mother Evelyn Umebuani and his nurse.

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Kris Janine Yu arrived in May 2008 from the Philippines for her Gift of Life surgery. She is shown above before surgery with her mom Agnes (left) and aunt, Bernadita.

 

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Chizaram is prepared for surgery (left). Dr. Weinstein, nurses, family and Rotarians all crowd into Chizaram's room to visit him after surgery. Break out the balloons and cake, it's a great day!

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Here's Kris only one day post-op! It's V for victory for her.

 

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Bronx Rotarians chipped in to buy Chizaram his first bicycle. Formerly, his heart was in such tough shape, he could not ride a bike without risking his life. Chizaram's mom Evelyn sent us this picture along with a note that says it is hard for her to separate him from his bike.

Nothing says "I'm well" like a bike ride!

a link to a recent letter from Nairaj's mom