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Twins raise $25K for HeartGift, helping kids with congenital defects

Melena was born with a heart defect and underwent surgery at one week old.

AUSTIN, Texas — A pair of twins is celebrating their transition to adulthood by giving back during the holiday season. They called it their "mitzvah project."

Melena and Gael Kunik decided that instead of receiving gifts for their bar and bat mitzvoth, they wanted to donate money to HeartGift. HeartGift helps kids in need of heart surgery who are born with congenital defects.

Melena knows firsthand what it's like to have a heart defect. She was born with atrial and ventricular septal defect and underwent surgery at just one week old.

“Dr. Wright and Dr. Fraser were Malena’s lifesavers,” said Agustina Kunik, Melena and Gael's mom. “It was really all of our ideas because it was something that we were directly affected by and it has always been our intention to find a way to give back to the cause that saved our daughter’s life. Their 'mitzvah project' was centered around raising money for HeartGift."

Melena and Gael raised $25,000 for HeartGift.

The twins go to Hill County Middle School in Eanes ISD. Melena hopes to become a pediatric cardiologist and Gael has dreams of being a movie director.

HeartGift provides life-saving heart surgeries all over the world. Congenital heart defect is a common birth defect in children, according to the organization. 

Since 2000, HeartGift has been able to save more than 600 children from Kenya to India and Nicaragua to the Philippines. For more information about HeartGift, click here.

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