Gift of Life International Hosts Global Hearts Telethon On GivingTuesday

Robbie Donno of Manhasset was honored in 2020 by the foundation he founded in 1975. It has served almost 45,000 children around the world since its start with life-saving heart procedures. (Screen Capture)

Manhasset-based foundation’s motto is ‘Healing little hearts around the world’

Gift of Life International is hosting its third annual Global Hearts Telethon on Facebook Live once again this year. On November 29,  viewers and supporters can tune in to the telethon on the Gift of Life International Facebook Page beginning at 4 p.m. The telethon will feature stories from Gift of Life International children and their families from all around the world.

“The telethon is a great opportunity for us to reach more people and grow support for our life-saving programs around the world,” said CEO Rob Raylman. “We will be sharing more about our programs and where we will be working in 2023.”

Gift of Life will hold this year’s telethon live on location in El Salvador. Viewers will meet some of the children and their parents to hear their heartwarming stories of overcoming pediatric heart disease through Gift of Life programs.

Programming runs for a full four hours, with reports from Bolivia, Uganda, Romania, Korea and the Philippines, reflecting the global reach of the international charity.

Gift of Life International provides hope to children with heart disease and to their families by empowering doctors and nurses with the tools, training, funding and support they need to treat children in their country of birth. Every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world a baby is born with a life-threatening, but highly treatable congenital heart defect. That’s over 1.3 million children each year, and 93 percent of them are born in a country that cannot provide them with treatment.

“The need is there and we are continually scaling our operations to meet that need,” said Raylman.

A Global Network

GOLI’s mission is to provide lifesaving cardiac treatment to children in need from developing countries regardless of gender, creed, or national origin. Their goal is to develop sustainable pediatric cardiac programs by implementing screening, surgical and training visits which are supported by autonomous Gift of Life programs, Rotary global grants and generous donors from around the world.

Rea was diagnosed with a heart defect in June 2021 and later that year became the 40,000th child served by the Gift of Life during its mission trip to Prishtina, Kosovo in September 2021. (Gift of Life International)

This global network is currently providing lifesaving cardiac treatment to a child every two hours and 18 minutes. Over the past forty-six years, Gift of Life International has helped more than 44,000 children from 80 countries across five continents receive treatment for their heart disease. This global network of caring comprises 84 Gift of Life Affiliated Programs throughout the world. Through their collaborative efforts, they are lighting the world with hope for children with heart disease and their families.

A Telethon of Good News

Now more than ever, the world needs some good news. Here are just a few of the stories that will be shared during the Global Hearts telethon on Thursday, November 29:

• Grace Agwaru, the very first Gift of Life International heart surgery recipient was treated on Long Island nearly 50 years ago. In September of this year, she returned from Uganda to Long Island to thank the volunteers who have since gone on to save thousands of other children worldwide. As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported in this coverage on September 27, the little girl is now a grown woman on a mission to give back. “Today our daughter has come home,” said Rob Donno, Gift of Life founder. There is an unbreakable bond between Grace Agwaru and Donno. When she was just 5, a child in Uganda with a hole in her heart, he was a stranger who saved her life.

• Tendo, who lives in Uganda, was only 9 months old when Gift of Life International treated her. Now she’s a 12-year old who wants to become a cardiologist.

• Organizers are hoping to visit a family in Kosova to interview the father of Rea, Gift of Life’s 40,000th child. CEO Rob Raylman will interview Paulina and her mom, a child from the Ukraine. He will also interview health care providers in various locations to talk about the impact Gift of Life has had on them personally.

To join in the telethon, go to the Facebook page here and join in on the day.

You can also get a reminder and let them know you’re planning to participate on the event page here.

If you can’t join in on the day of the telethon, but would like to support Gift of Life International with a financial donation, please visit the website here.

Gift of Life International is a registered charity with a 4/4 star rating from Charity Navigator.

—Submitted by Gift of Life International


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here