PORTLAND – Five-month-old Genesis Lluberes arrived in Portland last week with a life expectancy of no more than four years.

That changed dramatically Wednesday morning.

After nearly four hours in the operating room at Maine Medical Center, Genesis emerged from surgery with a patch on her heart and the prospect of a long, healthy life.

Genesis, who is from the Dominican Republic, is the first child to receive medical care in Maine through an international Rotary Club program called Gift of Life.

Another Dominican girl, 21-month-old Daisy Mayi, is set to become the second Gift of Life recipient to have open-heart surgery in Maine.

Daisy’s operation, initially scheduled for Wednesday, is expected to happen within a week, depending on when her cold clears up.

Since 1974, Gift of Life has arranged for more than 10,000 children worldwide to receive medical care for heart conditions.

Genesis and Daisy, whose families hadn’t met until recently, were born with tetralogy of fallot, a combination of four heart defects that prevents them from getting enough oxygen.

Their surgeon, Reed Quinn of Maine Heart Surgical Associates, said both girls had “significant obstruction” and wouldn’t have lived beyond three of four years without surgery.

After the successful operation Wednesday, Genesis was recovering in the hospital’s intensive care unit, where she will be for the next five to 10 days, said Paul Emery, a member of the Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club.

Once she gets out of the hospital, he said, “she should have a normal childhood.”

Inspired by a speech by the first Gift of Life patient at a Rotary convention a couple of years ago, Emery decided to bring the program to Maine.

Quinn, the state’s only pediatric heart surgeon, regularly operates on needy children at no cost, and agreed to take Genesis and Daisy as patients.

The travel and living expenses for the girls and their mothers, who are staying at Portland’s Ronald McDonald House for free, are being covered by the Gift of Life.

Their medical costs are being covered in part by Maine Medical Center and by Quinn’s Maine Foundation for Cardiac Surgery, which funds about a half-dozen children’s heart surgeries annually, as well as 20 or so that Quinn performs on children in China every other year.

On average, a hospital stay for surgery to address tetralogy of fallot at Maine Medical Center lasts about a week and costs about $60,000, not including doctors or anesthesiologists, said hospital spokesman John Lamb.

Quinn said about a dozen doctors, including pediatricians and cardiologists, are involved in each of the foundation’s surgeries, and Daisy’s and Genesis’ cases are no different.

He said he has never encountered a physician through Maine Medical Center who declined to donate care to children in need.

“It’s something that everybody feels good about,” Quinn said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]