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Healing the Children

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At two years old and all smiles, Gift Mewali is just that, a gift. "She happened to be one of the lucky ones," said Gift's host mom, Rebecca Dixon in Louisville, KY.

Her story started more than 7,600 miles away in Uganda in east Africa. Gift was born with a hole in her heart and no one to fix it. "It's too long of a wait for them to get care," said Debi McDonald, Executive Director for the Kentucky chapter of Healing the Children who helped bring Gift to the U.S. for care.

Gift's family knows the process first hand. Her older brother, Patrick also had a heart condition. "He was on borrowed time and his little heart just couldn't do it," Dixon said.

Gift was treated at Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville. "She had a lot of trouble gaining weight, because her heart was always doing extra work just pumping the blood around, and she wasn't able to put on weight through her whole life, up until now," said Dr. Brian Holland, Co-Director of Norton Children's Heart Institute and Chief of Division of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Louisville.

Dr. Holland said in the U.S. Gift's condition can be common, but it's usually caught early. "We may do the surgery before they're even six months old," Dr. Holland said.

Transportation, time and treatment were all donated. "This is just so wonderful to be involved in something such as this and I just can't imagine what else I could possibly do in my life that would bring me so much joy, to be helping in this way," McDonald said.

"I hope someday to see her as a young lady. I do. I hope to see Gift when she's 10. I hope to see her again when she's a teenager," Dixon said.

Gift's family in Uganda
Chapter Director Debi McDonald with Gift's family in Uganda.


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