Mehmet Balaj, a seven year old boy from Kosovo traveled to San Antonio for his HeartGift surgery in March. It was amazing to see the large Kosovar / Albanian community in San Antonio embrace him and his mother Dardana. They enjoyed many visitors and home cooked meals and even discovered a distant cousin living here. Mehmet is an only child and he loved having two older brothers in his host family. He grew quite attached to his host parents, Besnik and Amela Kraja, as well. Despite language barriers (Mehmet and his mother Dardana only spoke Albanian) their gratitude for Mehmet's mended heart and the warmth from the community here was understood and felt by all. They, and HeartGift, are especially grateful to Mr. Bill Greehey and the Greehey Family Foundation for sponsoring Mehmet's surgery.
Hamza Mohamud received surgery to mend the hole in his heart in October 2016. He was 4 years old at the time and celebrated his 5th birthday while recovering from surgery. He experienced his first birthday party and his first Halloween while in San Antonio. He loved dressing up as Spiderman to go trick of treating with his host family sibings. The Brierty family opened their home and their hearts and provided Yeshua and his father Bashir with care, love and support during a frightening time. They remain in touch today and share photos and family updates. After he returned home to Kenya we are happy to see how well he is doing. Hamza now has the energy to keep up with his siblings and excel in his classes at school.
HeartGift San Antonio's mission is to provide lifesaving heart surgery to children from around the world where specialized medical treatment is either scarce or nonexistent.