What is Gift of Life? The Gift of Life (GOL) Program was first conceived in 1974 by the Manhasset Rotary Club of Long Island, NY. In 1986 it was brought to the Clubs of New Jersey’s Rotary District 7490 (Passaic, Bergen and Hudson Counties), as a 501(c)(3) Foundation. The stated purpose was to provide cardiac surgeries to children from around the world. Since its inception, GOL has helped save the lives of over 700 children. In addition to providing surgeries for these children performed both domestically and abroad, GOL also works in their home countries to educate the medical profession, provide medical equipment, and raise the standard of living thus lowering the potential incidence of congenital heart defects.
Who are these children? All of the GOL children are from a country or region that does not otherwise have access to needed cardiac medical care. Most of these children, but not all, are from poverty stricken third world countries. Some are even from the United States. Our children range in age from newborn to 21 years old. They are male and female, of every race and religion and from nearly 60 countries across the world.
What is wrong with them? All of the children that we help are afflicted with some sort of cardiac defect or disease. Most of these ailments are congenital. The majority of these children require open heart surgery in order to live a productive and normal life.
How many children need help and why? Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) are the #1 birth defect in ALL countries around the world. In the United States alone 25,000 babies are born each year with CHD. That is one in every 115 babies born. Expectant women in third world countries lack basic nutrition, prenatal care and sanitary living conditions, which places their unborn children at greater risk for CHD. Once born, these children often do not receive even the most basic of medical care.
How does it work? The Rotarians and volunteers who administer the GOL program and who give endless hours of their time to host, transport and provide love and support to the children and their parents, receive no pay. The cost to sponsor a child in full is currently $6,000; a rather small price to pay to save a life. Corporate sponsorships ranging from $500 to $6,000 or more, can be made and provide an excellent way for businesses to both, give back to the community, and receive great publicity at the same time. Individuals may even consider hosting a child and the parent during their stay in the United States. It is the experience of a lifetime, and considered by many as a defining moment in their lives. Other volunteer opportunities include translation, transportation, or the donation of other non-monetary items such as car seats, strollers, high chairs, large suitcases and duffel bags.