Page Stories
Nairaj pre-op
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.
Nairaj with his grandmother at Corpus Christi Monestery.
Nairaj is cuddled post-surgery by his grandmother. They stayed with hosts, Corpus Christi Monastery.
Nairaj growing and healthy

A letter of thanks from his mom.

Dear Mr.Romeo,

I am emailing you in connection with Nairaj Budnarine who had done corrective hearth surgery in September, 2005 through the Gift of Life Foundation- Bronx Rotary International.Nairaj is doing very well and is growing as anormal healthy child.Sometimes he would ask about the mark on his chest and we try to tell him, he dosen’t quite understand as yet.He is very brave and asks a lot of questions,he would talk about you and Dr. Sett sometimes Attached is a photograph of Nairaj for you to share with everyone.Mr. Romeo, we haven’t forgotton you nor all those wonderful people who contributed towards making Nairaj’s surgery a success and whose assistance through our most difficult times was most appreciated.

Please give special regards to Mr. Daniel Nalvin and Caroline.
You all are always in our thoughts and prayers.

Pria Budnarine

Luis arrives so ill, he's blue.
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.
A post-op Luis beams at a Rotary luncheon. What a change!
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 18 children as of July 2017 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 is proud to say it has gone on to sponsored the most children in our District

The Club finds a host family and provides pick-up and transportation to and from the airport and hospital. In the past, surgical services were 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 $6,250 per child to cover hospital costs and other expenses.

With changes in the healthcare system, Montefiore is no longer providing Gift of Life surgeries and Maria Fareri Children's Hospital is currently searching for a new Cardiothoracic surgeon following the retirement of Dr. Sett. We are staunch supporters of the Gift of Life program and will continue to try to raise awareness of and support for this important program.

More Gift of Life Children
Amela Zadeja from Albania had her surgery in April of 2007. She and her mom Rita were hosted by relatives here.
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.
Amela sent the Rotary Club this photo along with a card expressing her thanks. (see below)
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.
Chizaram Chibueze from Nigeria also had his surgery in 2007.

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!

Kris beforeKris post-op

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. At right, here's Kris only one day post-op! It's V for victory for her.

Skerlyn Mateo Soto from the Dominican Republic had her surgery in 2008. Our Club co-sponsored her with Eastchester Rotary.

Marlon page 2

Here he is, our TENTH Gift of Life child! We couldn't be more proud.

See pictures below of Marlon Johnson from Jamaica with his mother Kimeisha.

Even though Marlon was in great need of surgery when he arrived and not as active and lively as a child his age should be, he was a loving snuggly child right from the start. See him take to PDG Gilda Chirafisi in the top left photo below and host Megan Charlop on the right.

Dr. Suvro Sett did the surgery and one can see the nurses and surgical team falling in love with him.

Jim Romeo looks about ready to take him home with him.

Austin exhaustedAustin healed

Working with the Rotary Club of the Pelhams, we have brought 3 year old Austin Egberuare to the U.S. from Nigeria for his life-saving surgery to repair his heart. He was accompanied by his mother Gloria and will stay with Megan Charlop for his recovery period.

His surgery was performed at Montefiore Children's Hospital by Dr. Samuel Weinstein on November 16, 2009, and he came through with flying colors.


Visar Neziraj (above left) from Kosovo arrived with his father, Hetem, at the airport in NY exhibiting some obvious trepidation. The Yorktown Rotary Club co-sponsored this child who received corrective heart surgery at Maria Fareri’s Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center on Dec. 6, 2010.

Valdren Bytyqi arrived from Kosovo with his father Musa. They stayed with a host family in Brooklyn. This sponsorship is at no cost to the Club because Gift of Life (GOL) District 7230 is covering the sponsorship fee. Valdren will had his surgery on Aug. 17, 2011 at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center and we are thrilled to say that it was another dramatic success.

Richard HastingsAgnessa Birniku

Richard Hastings (at left) came to us, with his mother, from Jamaica in 2011 for his second surgery. He was a very sick baby who was sent home after the surgery to regain strength for a third. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could return. His mother, who is a nurse, keeps in touch with the Club and remains grateful for Gift of Life's efforts to help her son.

Agnessa Birniku (at right) came for her surgery with her mother, Shefije, from Kosovo. She had her surgery in May of 2013. She and her mother stayed with the family of host mom Ernesta Kelmendi for the duration of their stay. Those who visited with them in the hospital the day after the operation could not even believe she had been in surgery the day before as she exhibited no signs of discomfort.

Jaedan arrivesSurfer Jaedan

In the photo at left, Jaedan Ramkaran from Trinidad can be seen with his very weary and worried mother Jacqueline when they arrived at the airport. Gift of Life D7230 Chair Georgene Mongarella and our own Ed Hicks were on hand to receive them. Tiny Jaedan is seen at right at a Club meeting post op where he seems to be giving us his best surfer's moves.

Enea Aliu


Gift of Life child Enea Aliu (at left) and mother, Ejupi, arrived from Kosovo on March 4, 2015. Her procedure was not as extensive as some and was a more simple catheterization which was done on March 13 and she was allowed to return to the host family's house the next day.

Jefvonny Martinez

Jefvonny Martinez from Belize, was Bronx Rotary's most recently sponsored child (2017). His life-saving heart surgery was performed at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.