Columbia, SC (WLTX)- For more than 20 years the Spring Valley Rotary Club has been helping children all around the world get the medical care they need, without having to worry about the cost.
Every year, Palmetto Health and the Roatary work with Gift of Life partners in third world counties to identify children with special medical needs that can't be performed in their home countries.
The group brings these children to South Carolina and Rotarians host them and the doctors perform any medical procedures the children needs.
This year, 11-year-old Xochitl and her mother came all the way from El Salvador because of the child's spine.
Xochitl was born with scoliosis and needed a complicated surgery her mother says she might not have received as quickly in their home country.
Mother and daughter were recommended for the Gift of Life program by their doctor in El Salvador and they landed in South Carolina October 8 of last year.
Xochitl has had two operations at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, to address her severe scoliosis and issues with her spinal cord, the first was a procedure by pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Stanley Skarli, to "untether" her spinal cord.
A month later, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Hydorn did a spinal fusion to address her scoliosis, by putting permanent rods in her back.
During their three month stay, Gert and Marty Wells of Columbia became their host family and had them stay at their home. "Initially I was a little apprehensive about having strangers come to my home but overtime we fell in love with the family" said Wells.
Now Gert says, "people like me may be afraid to do something like this and open up their homes to a family or strangers but I can guarantee you that it's more of a blessing to the host family than it is to the family visiting".
Spring Valley Rotary Club, Gift of Life chairman Wayne Magee, says Xochitl has been the gift in their lives.
"To see Xochitl who literally spent 22 days of the three months in the hospital, to see the resilience that she has that's demonstrated by a child, her ability to push through anything and to always manage to have a smile on her face has just been very moving" said Magee.
Xochitl and her mother Lilian go back to El Salvador Friday morning. "She'll go home in a much, much better place than how we received her" said Magee.
To learn more about the Spring Valley Rotary Club click here.