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Teenager from Kosovo Gets Best Gift Ever for Her “Sweet 16” – Doctor Fixes Her Broken Heart

Michael Yurieff  | Published on 12/21/2012
Unlike most girls about to turn 16, Aurora Volkshi wasn’t thinking about a big party and lots of gifts. Instead, she was focused on mending her broken heart. Just days after reaching her sixteenth birthday on December 16th, Aurora got her wish. After undergoing a minimally invasive cardiac procedure at St. Francis Hospital, her heart was made whole again. Two years ago, while suffering from pain in her legs, Aurora was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a hole between the aorta and pulmonary artery that allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix. Doctors in her country didn’t have the technology to repair the congenital defect and told Aurora’s father he would have to find a hospital in Europe to treat her. That's when the Gift of Life, Inc. stepped in. The Great Neck-based humanitarian organization provides life-saving medical procedures to children from around the world. It brought Aurora to the U.S. from Kosovo, along with 7-year-old Dionit Sahiti, a boy who was also born with a hole in his heart, a condition known as an atrial septal defect (ASD). Using catheter-based devices inserted through the groin, Sean Levchuck, M.D., Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology at St. Francis, was able to plug the hole in Aurora’s heart and patch the one in Dionit's. “I’ve safely performed these procedures on thousands of children and to be able to bring this state-of-the-art care to young people who would not normally have access to it is amazing,” says Dr. Levchuck. The leading cardiologist donated his medical services to not only enhance the quality of these patients’ lives, but to dramatically increase their life expectancies, which would be limited if their conditions were not corrected. Aurora, who came to New York with her father Lulzim, a small business owner, plans on re-celebrating her “Sweetest 16” with her mother and three younger sisters when she returns home next month. In the meantime, she plans to Skype them about her heartfelt experience and a trip she will never forget. As for Dionit, who came here with his mother Teuta Gasnaj, it will also be a brand new lease on life. His mom says he loves playing ball games, but couldn’t because of his condition. Now, she hopes that he can play with his three siblings without feeling so tired.

SAVE A CHILD is a registered trademark of Gift of Life, Inc. and Russian Gift of Life USA

Russian Gift of Life USA: P.O. Box 403, Sea Cliff, NY 11579-0403 USA
Corporate Office: 475 Northern Blvd., Ste. 22, Great Neck, NY 11021
A 501 (c) (3) Tax-Exempt Organization EIN #11-3117028