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Rotary Gift of Life raises $48,872 for medical mission

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GREENFIELD — As Greenfield’s Rotarians were tallying up the funds raised by last month’s  15th annual Gift of Life Dinner and silent auction, four children in Amman, Jordan, received life-saving cardiac surgeries as a result of the program.

Greenfield physician Stephanie Kinnaman once again made the flight to Amman on a whirlwind tour that took her to six countries in eight days to perform surgeries, forge new relationships and discuss strategies for the future.

After “taking four children off the waiting list” in Amman, Kinnaman and Dr. Mark Turrentine’s heart team from Riley Children’s Hospital flew to the emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to discuss bringing pediatric heart services to that part of the world, Kinnaman said.

Despite its wealth and progressiveness, Kinnaman said, the UAE does not have readily available pediatric cardiovascular surgery services available and sends its patients to other parts of the world for treatment.

However, a new children’s hospital has been built in Dubai, and Kinnaman said the future potential there is “incredible.”

Funding the Riley team once again is the Rotary’s Gift of Life International program, of which the Greenfield Rotary and Sunrise clubs have been a part for 15 years.

This year, the clubs raised $48,872 for the two-pronged effort that sends teams abroad to perform surgeries and train doctors and technicians on site or bring kids back to this country for their procedures.

“It went really well,” event chair and local program founder Tony Campbell said of the Feb. 22 dinner, music and auction fundraiser in Indianapolis.

 “We’ve raised right at $50,000 for the past four or five years, and we’re very satisfied with that. We’ve been blessed to sell out every year, and every year we have people gracious enough to donate items for the auction.”

This year, organizers sold out early and squeezed more attendees at each table to meet the demand.

Plans are already under way for the 2015 dinner, which will be held Feb. 21, Campbell said.

The Gift of Life program was founded in 1974 by a Manhasset, N.Y., Rotary Club with Rotarians from Central Indiana joining the effort in 1988. Since that time, more than $450,000 has been raised here to help more than 250 children from Russia to Haiti, according to the club’s literature.

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