The Personal Story That Drives One Family to Help Others┃Meet Our Donors

Published January 5, 2022

Rachael and Craig Atkinson discovered Children’s HeartLink while searching for volunteer opportunities abroad. They loved the organization’s mission but since neither of them are medical professionals, did not feel qualified to volunteer abroad. They began donating instead and have been steadfast donors since 2008.

Rachael and Craig with their two sons

Rachael’s story

Their connection to Children’s HeartLink is a special one. Rachael was born outside of the United States and diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot shortly after being welcomed into the world. This condition is a combination of four heart defects that result in reduced oxygen flow throughout the child’s body. It’s considered to be a critical heart defect as it may require surgery or other procedures soon after birth. Rachael’s country of birth did not have the means or medical expertise to perform the surgery. At age 1½ Rachael was adopted and brought to the United States, where she underwent her first of several surgeries, saving her life.

“I was fortunate to be able to receive the medical care I needed, but I know that many children around the world even today do not have that same access, specifically to cardiac healthcare,” Rachael explains. “I am happy to be able to donate to Children’s HeartLink as they help kids around the world who are in a similar situation that I was in.”

Because Rachael’s congenital heart defect was treated timely, she could have a typical childhood and is now leading an active life. She enjoys spending time with her family, especially their two boys, Isaac, age 7, and Albert, age 3. Together, they love hiking, camping, fishing and the outdoors in all four seasons.

Rachael and Craig have been generously giving to Children’s HeartLink every month and are founding members of the new HeartBeat Club, a community of donors who make recurring gifts every month to support Children’s HeartLink’s mission. Donations from people like Rachael and Craig are key to Children’s HeartLink’s operations as their gifts become revenue the organization can count on while planning future work and partnerships with hospitals around the world.

“Children’s HeartLink does amazing work around the globe, helping share life-changing healthcare where it otherwise wouldn’t be available,” says Craig. “We are proud to support their work.”

You can become a member of the HeartBeat Club as well by signing up to make monthly, sustaining gifts automatically. We are so grateful for Rachael and Craig for their continued support, and all the other founding HeartBeat Club members! To become part of monthly donor giving, click here and choose recurring donations. 

Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. Founded in 1969, we currently support 18 partner hospitals in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. In 2021, our medical volunteers trained over 5,400 professionals and helped more than 122,000 children worldwide.