ROSLYN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There were all smiles Wednesday from a six-year-old boy from Eastern Europe who just a week ago could barely breathe.
Erblin Sllamniku speaks no English, but it didn’t require an interpreter to read his smiles and hugs as doctors, students, and volunteers from Gift of Life brought him and his father to Long Island for a life saving surgery.
“I was terrified and scared in Kosovo,” his father Fadil tells CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “I was always afraid he would die because no help from doctors, no doctors could help him.”
The kindergartener from Kosovo was born with a hole in his heart, which made it three times harder for him to simply breath. Last week, doctors from St. Francis Hospital, the Heart Center, fixed that.
“The procedure was highly successful,” Pediatric Cardiology Chairman Dr. Sean Levchuck said. “This little boy is going to have a great life.”
The Sllamniku’s trip was funded by students from St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington who also ot to witness the operation in a new partnership to inspire future medical professionals.
“To see it makes me truly want to do this,” senior Hannah Smith said. “Dr. Levchuck changed this little boy’s life.”
“Nationality is overblown,” principal Brother Gary Cregan said. “The human family is always the thing we must focus on.”
$5,000 dollars was raised by students of St. Anthony’s High School. They’re required to wear uniforms to school, but several times a year they can wear their own clothes if they donate five dollars. The dress-down days brought in more than enough money to help Erblin.
“To think that those simple five dollars that each of us donated could go so much and a long way in this boy’s life is crazy,” student Kathleen Bishop said.
In addition to a new lease on life, Erblin received new soccer gear since he’s now able to play with energy.
Along with his new heart and soccer equipment, he’ll be taking home two new words.
“Thank you,” he beamed to his guardian angels.
The Sllamnikus will remain on Long Island for another two weeks to undergo treatments for follow-up care and to correct vision problems.