Another life saved
Six-year-old Rosana Shabani of Kosovo, who will receive lifesaving heart surgery on Aug. 9, with (from left) Islip Rotary president Dennis Ciano, her mother Lirije, and Gift of Life chairman Joe DeVincent.

Photo by Bob Nathan

Another life saved


ISLIP—Not everyone gets a second chance. And that is especially true for a child living in a developing country. However, through the Rotary Gift of Life International, children in need of heart surgery are brought to this country to receive lifesaving surgery and eventually head back home mended and with a second chance at life.

Last week, 6-year-old Rosana Shabani of Kosovo attended a Rotary Club of Islip meeting with her mom, Lirije.  Rosana, who was born with a hole in her heart, is scheduled for surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn on Aug. 9. She is just one of many children who have been helped over the years through this benevolent program that provides the trip, surgery and follow-up care free of charge.

Joe DeVincent, chairperson of the Suffolk Rotary Gift of Life program, said the Suffolk County branch of the program helps three to four children with similar congenital heart problems every year. “The kids are coming from countries where these procedures are not available,” said DeVincent.

Dr. Lezchuck, a pediatric cardiac surgeon at St. Francis Hospital, donates his services. And the cost of the hospital is covered as well. “We are grateful to him [and the hospital],” said DeVincent.

A group of volunteers provide room and board for the kids and their parents for their entire stay in the country. That length of time varies depending on scheduling of the operation and when all follow-up care is completed.

DeVincent said he is happy he can be a part of such a worthwhile program and organization.

 “I enjoy the opportunity to get to know [the children and their parents] and to take care of them while they are here,” he said. “Gift of Life is a very Rotarian program,” DeVincent added. “It’s a good cause that brings people from around the world together to help children.”

For more information on the Gift of Life Program, go to the website