While many college students are already enjoying summer vacation, several Paramus residents were visiting one at in Ridgewood on June 19 to observe her recuperation after an intense heart surgery.
Diane Rossan Beltran, like many young women, dreams of completing college and pursuing a rewarding career. She also yearns to succeed so her mother will not have to resort to cooking street food as a major source of income, and to purchase medications.
Rossan, who lives in Camarines Sur, of the poorest provinces of the Philippines, suffers from rheumatic heart valve disease, which is primarily caused by rheumatic fever in third world countries.
Her condition was so severe, she needed advanced treatment in the United States as soon as possible. She paid a neighbor to use the computer to find charitable organizations willing to cover her transportation and medical expenses.
She was turned down by all except one – Paramus Rotary Club’s Gift of Life Foundation.
"If Diane did not have this surgery, she would surely die,” said Dr. Mariano Brizzio, a staff cardiac surgeon at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood for the last five years, who donated his time to perform three, triple valve surgeries. “The Valley Hospital is very generous to give us their doctors, nurses and facilities to do this.”
The heart valves were donated by Medtronic and Paramus Pharmacy donated the medications.
Jennifer Padolina, a member and president-elect of the Paramus Rotary Club, who sits on the Gift of Life committee, said in addition to Rossan, the Rotary club helped four children from the Philippines and a young man from Peru in 2011.
“[This year] we have another man in his thirties coming in from Honduras,” added Marty Diamond, a 27-year member and past Paramus Rotary president. “Rotary has a motto - which is ‘service above self’. Do whatever you can to help people. It’s very special.”
Diamond, Padolina, and Ray Hough, the “guru” of Gift of Life, picked up Rossan and her mother at the airport last week, and they stayed with Diamond.
This week, Nelsie Parrado, president of the Sunrise Rotary in Fairlawn, opened her home to Rossan and her mother, Lourdita Beltran, while the hospital performed testing before the surgery.
“I have a compelling need to help others, especially after the blessings I’ve received from this country,” said Parrado, a native Filipina, who is organizing a fundraiser with neighbors to help Rossan cover additional expenses.
Mario De Leon, the Consulate General of the Philippines Embassy in New York City, visited Rossan days after her surgery and was taken aback by the generosity of the rotary, hospital, and community.
“She is being giving a new lease in life. This is really life-changing for them, and they don’t have the means at all for this treatment,” said De Leon, adding the family appreciated his visit to the hospital. “I’m really very grateful for the [Paramus] Rotary Club.”
Laurdita Beltran was also very pleased with the outpouring of support for her daughter.
As for Rossan, despite her frailty, she looks forward to returning to the Philippines to study banking and finance, and possibly volunteering for the Rotary.
“If there is an opportunity, I’m glad to work with the Rotary,” said Rossan, who has two years left to complete her degree. “But first I want to finish my studies.”
The Paramus Rotary Club is a group of 100 members that works on local community service projects, awards local scholarships and sponsors three to five children every year who have life-threatening heart conditions. The club also donates dictionaries to every third grader in every Paramus school.