Family creates ‘Rachel’s Fund’ to honor daughter

Published: August 3rd, 2017

Category: Announcements

Published on behalf of Rachel Smith’s family.

Rachel was born, Sept. 13, 1992 in Tallahassee, Fla. She was full term with no complications during the pregnancy and delivery. However, within hours, our world had changed. She turned blue during her bath. Doctors suspected she had a heart condition but in order to evaluate her more thoroughly Rachel was life-flighted to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., where she underwent two heart catheterizations within a few days of birth. It was determined she was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot with severe pulmonary atresia.


Tetralogy of Fallot is a heart defect that features four problems:


  • A hole between the lower chambers of the heart
  • An obstruction from the heart to the lungs
  • The aorta, or blood vessel, lies over the hole in the lower chambers
  • The muscle surrounding the lower right chamber becomes overly thickened

In Rachel’s case, she had several holes between the upper and lower chambers of her heart. Her pulmonary artery was the size of a pencil lead. A normal pulmonary artery is the size of a pencil.


Rachel had her first open heart surgery at UF Health Shands Hospital in 1993 when she was six months old. She had a second open heart surgery in 2006 and a third in April 2011. After complications following her third open heart surgery, she was placed on the heart transplant list in June 2011. The following August, during a parent’s worst nightmare, a family honored their beautiful daughter’s wishes and donated her organs. It was then that Rachel received her new heart.


Rachel lived for two years with a new heart and passed away in November of 2013.

Rachel’s family created Rachel’s Fund to honor her memory. Gifts to Rachel’s Fund will be used to purchase gas, food and hotel accommodations for families of patients like Rachel.

Make an online gift to Rachel’s Fund here.

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