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1975 – The Beginning
The Rotarian-based program Gift of Life (GOL) began its mission of bringing one child at a time from emerging countries to the USA for cardiac treatment.
1983 – U.S. Presidential Support
In 1983, four-year-old Brett Halvorson was escorted by President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan from South Korea to the United States to receive essential cardiac care from Gift of Life International.
2003 – Gift of Life International is Formed
Gift of Life International (GOLI) was formed as an official not-for-profit organization to maximize the capacity of existing GOL programs, develop new GOL programs and strengthen partnerships with like-minded NGOs.
2008 – Healing 10,000 Lives
In 2008, we were also able to treat our 10,000th child, Jonathan. Jonathan, from Uganda, traveled with Grace Agwaru to New York for his surgery.
2009 – Our New Strategy
Shortly after healing our 10,000th child, an innovative strategy was created to develop sustainable programs and the shift was made from helping one child at a time to helping thousands each year. Gift of Life International created the strategy to focus on developing sustainable cardiac surgery, catheterization and aftercare programs in select countries. Through our new strategy, we were able to rapidly expand our treatment reach, increasing the number of children we treat in a given calendar year.
2018 – Sustainability
Our Core Programs in Uganda and El Salvador reached sustainability and are now Legacy Programs where children are treated reliably in their country of birth.
2019 – Maximizing our Impact
Over 3,600 children were provided hope through our global network making Gift of Life International the largest NGO providing cardiac care to children in the emerging world.
2020-2021 – Pandemic Response
More than 3,400 children from 24 countries were treated during the global pandemic as we empowered local healthcare professionals to utilize skills learned to light the world with hope for children in need.
2022 – Overcoming Challenges
As pandemic restrictions eased and travel resumed, our global network responded by providing cardiac care to over 4,000 children in need – the most children treated in a single year since Gift of Life began in 1975. Additionally, through our global network, we were able to provide care to children from Ukraine like Polina.
Today, our mission to serve the children of the world living with heart disease continues to grow and reach more children in need. For 2023, we are striving to treat 5,000 children, the most ever treated in a single calendar year.
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