Six-year-old Roxana Gashi came from Kosovo to New York in August for a life-saving heart surgery and will leave with a host of memories from her time thanks to Gift of Life International.
The Manhasset Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club helped Zana, as she is affectionately known, have a Day in Manhasset, wandering up Plandome Road Thursday on her last day in New York.
Gift of Life founder and Manhasset Rotarian Robbie Donno said Zana and her father Emrulla enjoyed the afternoon, stopping at Villa Milano for a pizza lunch, Adelina Salon Boutique for a fresh haircut, Matty’s Toy Store for a few trinkets, including a toy cash register she chose, and Chocolate Works Manhasset to end the day on a sweet note.
Donno said Villa Milano co-owner Don Bekteshi and Adelina Salon owner Adelina Papo both spoke Albanian and were able to communicate with Zana and her father, who speaks some English, during their visit.
Chocolate Works Manhasset owner Stephanie Solomon of Roslyn helped Gashi create her own chocolate treats and sent home candy from the shop for the girl and her three siblings.
Emrulla said he can see the difference in his daughter since the surgery Sept. 6 at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn. Before, he said, she was often lethargic and slept poorly, but on Thursday, she was a typical giggling little girl.
“They saved my daughter and gave back the smile to my family,” Emrulla said. “Now we are ready go back home with a new life.”
Emrulla and Zana stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park during their stay, but the group made trips around the area to see the Statue of Liberty and the South Fork for a warm end-of-summer day.
“For the people that come here, that’s the most requested sight to see,” Donno said. “We don’t understand what that impact is because we’re used to it.”
Manhasset Rotary President Kavi Misrilall watched with joy as a former recipient of two heart surgeries from Gift of Life International 26 years ago.
Misrilall said when he was 2 and 4, he received open heart surgery funded and sponsored by Rotary clubs in Trinidad where he was born as well as a Suffolk County Rotary club. The two groups coordinated with Gift of Life International and secured the funds for the necessary surgeries.
“My life goal was ultimately to join the Rotary Club of Manhasset as they founded Gift of Life International, so it really was a goal of mine to be a part of that club, and it’s a privilege to become the president of the rotary club that helped save my life and other kids’ lives,” Misrilall said.