Francesca was treated at the old Killingbeck Hospital 30 years ago. As we are also celebrating our 30th anniversary – we wanted to share Francesca’s journey, from childhood to present day.

  • Age: 35
  • From: Hull
  • CHD: Septal Defect

“I was born with CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) – which I came to know as having a hole in the heart. 

After a number of tests as a toddler, the doctor advised my parents that I needed heart surgery.

The doctor said the surgery was needed before I turned 13 years old, otherwise, I would not live past my teen years.

So, at six years old, I went to Killingbeck Hospital in 1988 for a four-hour operation. 

After the surgery, I recovered in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I was in the hospital for 10 days.

I remember spending my 7th birthday at Killingbeck, but received some great treats and cards, so it wasn’t all too bad! The staff at the hospital were so friendly and I was able to play with the other children on the ward.

Immediately after my operation, whilst in ICU, I saw the scar on my chest, which was a bit scary at first. But even at a young age, I also knew and understood why I had the operation thanks to the staff at Killingbeck.

After a few days, I was transferred back to the main ward to recover.

Around six years ago, I had a check-up at Leeds General Infirmary and was gladly cleared of the defect, meaning the operation in my childhood was a success.

I now live with a scar for life and as much as it’s faded to skin colour over the years, I would feel a little wary if part of my scar was showing.

Saying that I have tried to live life as best as possible. I have always been a go-getter, and aim to be enthusiastic about everything in my life!

In recent years, my involvement with Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has included connecting with many ‘heart warrior’ patients and their families on Facebook and offering support and advice for those who are currently in a similar situation to how I was as a child.

I’ve also created social charity events with raffles and I’ve made a donation to mark the 30-year anniversary of when I had my operation. 

I’m now 35 years old and living life to the full Because Of You. Huge thanks to the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit and Children’s Heart Surgery Fund for saving my life.

Francesca is an avid writer. Below is an excerpt from one of Francesca poems:

“Because of You

The charity stays open

Treating the next generation

Us heart warriors are alive and kicking!”