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Paramus Rotary Gets Visit From 'Gift Of Life' Child

Parents Albert and Joy Dela Pena with Ashlee (standing) and Misha; hosts Helen and Lloyd Astmann; and Paramus Rotary Club President Jay Leone.
Parents Albert and Joy Dela Pena with Ashlee (standing) and Misha; hosts Helen and Lloyd Astmann; and Paramus Rotary Club President Jay Leone. Photo Credit: Fred Rohdieck

PARAMUS, N.J. -- A Gift of Life child and her family from the Philippines stopped by the Rotary Club of Paramus May 19 to says thanks to the organization that sponsored her heart surgery five years ago.

Ashlee Tan was 9 months old when she came to the Rotary to receive her “gift of life.” Her host family was Paramus Rotary Club’s Lloyd Astmann and his wife Helen.

It is rare that a Gift of Life child revisits the club and family that hosted, supported and sponsored their life saving heart surgery.

It took many months to arrange this visit with almost endless hurtles and issues with the exit visas for Ashlee and her family.

"While the Gift of Life surgery saved the life of Ashlee, our meeting her and her family changed Helen and my life forever, ” Lloyd Astmann said.

The Astmanns kept in contact with Ashlee over the past five years and made it possible for them to return for this visit.

The Rotary's "Gift of Life" program began in 1974. Since then some 10,000 children from more than 36 countries have received cardiovascular life-saving operations in the U.S. Children with heart defects are referred by physicians or participating groups in their home country and come to the U.S.

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