Fifteen year-old, Joseph Fajardo of Panama, is our Gift of Life program’s most recent success story.  Joseph & his mom, Maria, arrived in NJ in early January and were graciously hosted and loved by Morris Plains Rotarian, Ed Malicki, his wife Elsie and daughter Desiree Arroyo for the next 8 weeks (Ed & Desiree are both trustees of the GOL program).
 
 
 

Since birth, Joseph’s family was told there was nothing that could be done for his congenital heart defect, but the family refused to give up hope.  Thanks to the family’s persistence, the GOL program in Panama presented Joseph’s case to our District 7470 GOL program and the medical team at Westchester Medical Center accepted this very high-risk surgery.
 
Thankfully, on February 11th, Joseph received a new Mitral Valve during an 8-hour open-heart surgery.  The news of a successful surgery brought mom Maria to tears as she heard for the first time since birth that her son now had a chance at a normal, healthy life.  She could not even express the depth of her gratitude to the perfect strangers in another country who cared enough to help save her son’s life.
 
Post-surgery, Joseph experienced some minor complications and challenges, but none that could stop this determined young man from returning to his anxious family in Panama.  On March 6th, Joseph and Maria said farewell to the people who had opened their hearts and home for 2 months and were warmly greeted by their “real” family in Panama.
 
All of us at GOL NJ thank the Malicki family and all of our GOL supporters for their kindness and generosity which continue to allow us to save the lives of children like Joseph, one little heart at a time.
 
For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.giftoflifenj.org