The Evolution of Gift of Life

The Evolution of Gift of Life.

Maximizing Our Impact to Help More Children


Gift of Life is a Rotarian-based organization that has evolved over the past four and a half decades into a global network of caring.  Our traditional model for providing care to children with heart disease from emerging countries was to bring one child at a time to the United States for treatment.  For the first 30 years of our existence, this was our primary means of providing hope to children who were not able to receive treatment in their country of birth.

Although this remains an important part of the Gift of Life Global Network, we have now evolved, enabling us to help address the crisis that exists today for children with heart disease throughout the world who lack access to treatment. Through the strategy we have developed, over 99% of the more than 3,500 children each year we provide care to are treated in their country of birth.

Our Evolution

46 Years of providing hope to children with heart disease and
healing little hearts around the world


The Rotarian-based program, Gift of Life (GOL) began its mission of bringing one child at a time from emerging countries to the USA for cardiac treatment. The first-ever Gift of Life recipient, Grace Agwaru from Uganda, received a second chance at life. 


In 2003, Gift of Life International was formed with the following Guiding Principles:

  • Develop new GOL programs
  • Maximize the capacity of existing GOL programs
  • Develop partnerships with like-minded NGOs
  • Tell the collective story of GOL programs


Gift of Life International created the strategy to focus on developing Sustainable Pediatric cardiac surgery, catheterization and aftercare programs in select countries. 


Our Core Programs in Uganda and El Salvador reached sustainability and are now Legacy Programs where children are treated reliably in their country of birth. 


Over 3,600 children were provided hope through our global network making Gift of Life International the largest NGO providing cardiac care to children in the emerging world. 


More than 1,600 children from 16 countries were treated during the global pandemic as we empowered local healthcare professionals to utilize skills learned to light the world with hope for children in need. 


Our Core Program in Romania becomes our third Legacy Program and is now providing hope to Romanian children with heart disease on a reliable basis. 



Children Treated

From 80 Countries Across 5 Continents

In 2008, GOL global network celebrated saving our





Children Treated Annually

Throughout our Global Network of Caring

1.3 Million

Each year, 1.3 million children are born with congenital heart disease, and 93% of them are born in a country that cannot care for them.

1 in 100

This year, approximately 131 million children will be born. Statistically 1 in every 100 will have a congenital heart defect.

#1 Birth Defect

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is the number one birth defect worldwide. 

Legacy and Core Program Impact

17.5% of all children treated since 1975 are a result of our Legacy and Core Programs. 


Rotary Clubs


Rotary Districts

Support Gift of
Life Efforts
Around the World

Our global
network consists of


Autonomous Gift of Life programs