Our 3rd Gift of Life (GOL) patient, Ronalyn Quilas Magdelena, came to us under urgent circumstances. Originally a candidate for the Mission to the Philippines in October, her health had deteriorated to the extent that it was unlikely that she would survive until the trip in October. It didn’t require much deliberation for our club to decide that we wanted to be part of making a new life possible for Ronalyn
Ronalyn and her mother Victoria arrived at Newark airport on April 18th 2014. There was little time to acclimate to their new home with Debby and Rich Flower, as Monday morning brought with it a full day of tests at Valley Hospital. As Debby relates, Cardiac-thoracic surgeon, Dr. Brizzio explained as gently as possible the cold facts about the seriousness of the procedure proposed. She would require one valve replacement and one valve reconstruction. Ronalyn was at the end of Stage 4 of her condition and without the surgery, would have less than a year. She quickly made her decision, to trust the cardiac team. The 5-6 hour surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. Anxious Rotarians from our club and District representatives of the GOL Program sat vigil with Victoria. Ronalyn was released on the following Tuesday, only to suffer a relapse while attending the Rotary meeting on Thursday night. She was rushed back to the hospital for additional surgery to correct an erratic heartbeat. During surgery she crashed and her heart had to be shocked 3 times, the prognosis was not good. On Sunday most of us left with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. Monday morning, returning to the hospital the tears turned to joy. Ronalyn was sitting up, many of the tubes and lines removed, she was alert and waved to her visitors.
With a little help from our Friends, Interact students and families……..The Paterson Great Falls Rotary Club (PGFRC) sponsored a spaghetti dinner with all the fixings to raise funds to offset GOL expenses. The evening included some spirited karaoke and an impressive dessert table. The PGFRC club decided to pack as many adventures as possible into the time left before Ronalyn and Victoria would have to return home. They included: seeing Maleficent in 3D, a 4th of July celebration complete with the Ridgewood parade and fireworks, a family barbeque, a trip to the NJ shore and of course shopping at the mall. Sunday was reserved for thanks as we headed down to Newark to the Cathedral Basilica and attended 12:00 Mass. Our friends from the Paramus club sponsored a going- away barbeque. Tuesday was a special treat as we traveled to NYC to see “Pippin.”
Jack and Yolanda were able to meet with Ronalyn at the GOL reunion, held as part of the 2014 Mission to the Philippines. She has made amazing progress and sent this beautiful message: Ronalyn’s words – slightly edited – October 27 at 8:15 am – I’m Ronalyn Quilas Magdalena 23 years old, I’m a Gift Of Life survivor my operation held at new jersey last April 23 and May 09 2014. My life really changed from the time I met the organization Chairman Raymond Hough, Maam Yolanda Delariarte-DeStefano, Sir Giacomo DeStefano, my host family Maam Debby Turner Flower, Sir Rich Flower and Dr. Brizzio and all the members of GOL. They really light up my life, I still don’t know how to thank them. I’ll start with Joy Delapena (mother of a gift of life survivor) who introduced me to Mr. Ray, who helped us to apply for the gift of life, by giving us instruction. When Mr. Ray answered our email i wanted to jump but i can’t…from hopeless feeling i became stronger and a fighter i felt like i saw God open the gate of heaven for me to tell me that i still have a chance to live more and many years with my family and with all the people i loved. we forever thank you, while we live in this earth we will never ever forget you. more power and more blessing to come. Thank you for making my life complete!.