Volunteer Appreciation Month: How Our Volunteers Make a Difference 

Photo by Scott Streble. Jody Doll-Wilhelm, R.N., and Jessica Andersen, R.N., from Mayo Clinic training nurses at G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital in Coimbatore, India. January 2020.

 

During Volunteer Appreciation Month in April, we recognize our medical volunteers’ dedication and thank them for their service. Surgeons, cardiologists, respiratory therapists, intensivists, anesthesiologists, scrub and ICU nurses—this is a long list, yet not a comprehensive list of specialists on our volunteer teams. Some of them have volunteered with Children’s HeartLink for 10, 15 and 20+ years, and have spent countless hours on medical trips abroad.

“We’re grateful to our volunteers who help Children’s HeartLink fulfill its mission of training providers to treat children with heart disease in places where facilities and expertise are not easily accessible,” says President Jackie Boucher. “They have demanding jobs and busy lives, yet they have an unwavering and inspiring commitment to their peers around the world, knowing this is the best way to help the most children who need heart care.”

Transforming heart care around the world

Our medical volunteer teams come from 15 top teaching and research institutions (see the full list below). In 2019, before the pandemic, they helped us train more than 4,300 medical providers in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. The value of their donated time was over $700,000 that year alone. The impact was over 177,000 children helped, more than ever before.

Volunteers are at the heart of our train-the-trainer model, sharing their expertise to train their peers around the world. The hospitals and pediatric cardiac teams that complete our training program then commit to training other medical professionals in their region. That’s how we transform heart care for children around the world.

The pandemic has made our volunteers’ service challenging and their work lives more difficult. But despite the pressures they have faced, since April 2020 they have helped provide remote training for over 2,800 medical professionals. Training is critical no matter what is happening in the world. Children are still being born with congenital heart disease, and they need high-quality care.

Once travel restrictions are lifted, we anticipate a pent-up demand for volunteer service and a growing number of children who will need care.

“Our volunteers frequently tell us that this work is fulfilling and rewarding, that they ‘get more than they give,’ which is inspiring to us. We all look forward to the time when we can once again travel and meet in person for face-to-face training,” says Boucher.

Thank You to Our Medical Volunteer Teams from: