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Borough group gives girl operation, chance at life

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A 12-year-old Chinese girl arrived at Kennedy Airport this week to get a second chance at life.

Xiaotong Zhou, who flew in from her home in Liuning, China Monday, was scheduled to undergo open heart surgery at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx Thursday.

Her operation was paid in part by the non-profit organization known as the Gift of Life.

Living in China, Zhou suffered from congenital heart disease, a potentially fatal condition.

Gift of Life is an international organization with strong ties to the borough. Many of its leaders are members of the Flushing Rotary Club.

Vincent Tsang, a member of the Flushing Rotary, is currently president of the Chinese Gift of Life, an arm of the organization dedicated to bringing children from China.

“Every time we have a Chinese kid come into New York, this group of volunteers helps out,” Tsang said.

He said the Gift of Life volunteers help take care of the incoming child and her family by providing both food and shelter. Volunteers also help provide translation for the families.

Zhou and her mother were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Glen Oaks.

While the Chinese Gift of Life helps about 12 children a year, Tsang said the organization needs more funds.

Tsang said children in need of heart surgery arrived to New York with their blue lips due to the lack of adequate blood flow to their extremities.

After the operation, their lips return to their natural color.

“They are always very appreciative once they get home,” Tsang said. “They send letters of affection thanking the Gift of Life.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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