“In April 1988, Francesca was born with pulmonary atresia, PDA and right hypoplastic ventricle disorder, 31 years ago. Her survival chances were 20% to live to her 1st birthday. 31 years, 4 open-heart surgeries and one pulmonary valve transplant later, Frankie has not only beat the odds of her survival expectancy but, she’s also the mother of 3 living children. Another statistic that she was told was that she would never have kids; her chance of bearing her own children 0%. Mason, Havana Olivia, & LuciliaGrace are her world. Frankie does not only have CHD – she has lupus, an autoimmune disorder which causes your immune system to attack your vital organs
Lupus also is linked to causing certain CHD’s, miscarriage and stillbirth. LuciliaGrace was premature, survived her twin brother Lucca (passing away in their mother’s womb) & was born with VSD, left pulmonary artery stenosis, pulmonary stenosis and pfo . She came home at 4 lbs. 15 oz. without needing any open heart surgeries as of yet. As of July 2019, LuciliaGrace’s VSD has closed on its own without medical intervention. She needs monitoring for her pulmonary stenosis and may never need open heart surgery for it. The only medicine little Lu needs as of right now is to help her with her GERD, a common symptom among CHD patients. The chances of both mother and child to both have CHD is 3-6%! This rare duo is beating the odds and spreading awareness on CHD & Lupus. Francesca passed her physicals to become a first responder and met her husband taking their police exams together. Unfortunately, lupus is what forced her to change careers- NOT CHD. She’s now focusing on getting into law school to become a legal advocate for special needs education rights & legal advocacy for CHD patients and focus her passion on fighting for CHD Warriors to have the proper care plans, treatments & make sure insurance companies are held accountable to coverage and respect families financial situations! Francesca plans on advocating all the way to congress to express the severity of government funded research for CHD and find the link between autoimmune diseases and heart defects.
Her message for the CHD community is “Nothing is impossible when you have faith & the will to try. Doctors aren’t God. They’re opinions aren’t the be all end all. You can have a typical life with CHD. Don’t let your illness dictate your life and success. You aren’t a victim, you are a blessing. Love the fact that you are here and embrace living in the now. Being a female with CHD I was told I can’t or won’t have a normal life. I wouldn’t be a mom. After 15 miscarriages and 3 c sections, I am proving doctors wrong everyday. Tell me I can’t and I will continue to show you I will. I may have been born with a broken heart but I have a big mouth and a bigger passionate niche to help people and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I don’t have time to be sick and feel sorry for myself. Life is too short and I’m going to continue to make CHD and lupus my bitch.” – written by Francesca, January 2020.