The “Gift of Life” has been a Rotarian-based program since 1975. Its primary purpose is to help children with heart defects receive necessary corrective heart surgery to survive. In many cases, these children live in countries where they have no access to life-saving treatment. Through medical missions and the development of sustainable programs, Gift of Life strives to save the optimum number of children while providing nutritional support following their surgery.
The program reaches children throughout the world. There currently are 74 “Gift of Life”programs on 5 continents which are non-profit, tax-exempt corporations with autonomous boards of directors and other members who are Rotarians. Over 1,000 children are provided care through this Global Network each year.
The concept began when the Manhasset (New York) Rotary Club responded to a request for help from the Kampala Rotary Club in Uganda. The response brought five-year-old Grace Agwaru on a 5,000-mile journey from Uganda to Roslyn, NY. On November 15, 1975, she underwent a successful four-hour, open-heart surgical procedure at St. Francis Hospital to close a hole between the two lower chambers of her small heart. She now is an advocate for the “Gift of Life” program in Uganda.