Press Release

14-Year-Old Boy from Gambia Celebrates First Thanksgiving in U.S. After Getting Gift of Life at St. Francis Hospital

November 25th, 2019
St. Francis Hospital Gift of Life Recipient

ROSLYN, New York, November 26, 2019- Ambrus Correa has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The 14-year-old aspiring soccer star from Gambia, Africa suffered from Patent Ductus Arteriosus or PDA, a congenital heart defect that made him too tired to play his favorite sport.  But thanks to a minimally invasive procedure performed at St. Francis Hospital, he can now look forward to playing “football” as a half back. 

“Thanksgiving is a perfect time to count our blessings, and our highly skilled medical team feels blessed to be able to give patients such as Ambrus, who don’t have access to state-of-the-art medical care in their own countries, a new lease on life,” said Charles L. Lucore, M.D., M.B.A., President of St. Francis.

Ambrus was born with a hole in his heart that restricted blood circulation to his lungs, leading to shortness of breath and asthma. Using a catheter-based titanium device inserted through a blood vessel in the leg, Sean Levchuck, M.D., Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology at St. Francis, was able to plug up the hole in Ambrus’ heart.

“After years of suffering from this debilitating condition, Ambrus can finally get some relief from his asthma and gain some weight so that he can be at the top of his game and lead a normal life,” said Dr. Levchuck who has donated his services to perform hundreds of these life-saving procedures on children from all over the world.

Thanks to humanitarian efforts by Gift of Life International and the Nicholas J. Vizza Fund, Ambrus was able to receive the life-saving procedure. His father Simon, a lab technician in Gambia, said he travelled a long way to finally be able to get much needed medical help for his son. They’ll be spending their first Thanksgiving with a sponsor family that has made them feel at home in the U.S., before returning to Africa where Ambrus will be reunited with his three brothers and two sisters. They can’t wait to watch him play his favorite sport with renewed life.

Contact: Rosemary Gomez, 516-563-7965, 718-744-4289, 


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