Camarines woman finds bridge to her heart in N.J. foundation

Diane Beltran gets a visit from Consul General Mario de Leon.

What do you do when you’re desperate and nearing the end of your rope?

Diane Beltran, 28, who is suffering from a rheumatic heart valve disease had nowhere else to go. The daughter of a street food vendor in Camarines Sur was steadily losing weight and whatever was ailing her, she knew her family could not afford its treatment. She reached out to the Gift of Life Foundation website in the U.S. despite friends’ warnings the site appeared to be a “hoax,” according to .

Turned out the foundation is a project of the Paramus Rotary Club in New Jersey, whose president-elect Jennifer Padolina is Filipino. The foundation has previously helped four people from the Philippines and a man from Peru.

The club facilitated Diane’s trip to the U.S., and The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood donated its medical staff and facilities. Diane was nicely recovering from her triple valve surgery when Consul General Mario de Leon came to visit.

“We are grateful for the Paramus Rotary Club; she was given a new lease in life,” said de Leon. Left untreated, Diane’s condition could potentially lead to heart failure, according to her doctors.

Present during the emotional visit were Padolina; Nelsie Parrado, president of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Fair Lawn, who has offered to house Diane and her mother during her recuperation; Peter Diestel, senior vice president of The Valley Hospital; Diane’s cardiac surgeon Mariano Brizzio; and her mother Laurdita.

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