Three-year-old Rea from Kosovo is the 40,000th child to have their heart healed through our global network of caring since 1975.
Rea has an older sister named Tea who is five. Rea and Tea live with their parents in Gjilan, Kosovo. Rea is especially close to her grandfather. This past June, Rea was diagnosed with a heart defect. Her family was devastated. Her father said he was not able to think about anything else other than the fact that his daughter was ill and needed help. Currently, there is no access to pediatric cardiac care in Kosovo.
When Rea was diagnosed by the local cardiologist in June 2021, she was fortunate that Gift of Life had a training visit scheduled for September of 2021. Rea was put on the list to be screened for care during that visit.
Rea was selected as one of the ten surgical candidates scheduled for this visit and was the first child operated on. Thankfully she responded well to the procedure and was able to go home within 7 days with a healed heart.
You can hear directly from her father about the care we provided.
Brenda Small is the Operations Consultant at Gift of Life International. She assumed this role in 2012.
Brenda was inspired to help children in need with heart disease after her third child was born with a complex heart defect and underwent successful open-heart surgery in her first year of life. Brenda learned of Gift of Life International in 2006 at which time she established Gift of Life Los Angeles where she holds the position of President. Between 2008 and 2012, Brenda volunteered her time to help with Gift of Life International in addition to running Gift of Life Los Angeles.
From 2012 to 2022, Brenda held the position of Director of Operations for Gift of Life International. Today, she continues this lifesaving work as Operations Consultant. Brenda also implemented the Nutritional Program in El Salvador in 2008 which has now provided nutritional support to more than 250 children and their families. Brenda has traveled with many of the Gift of Life training teams and witnessed these precious lives being saved.