Heart To Heart

John Franco’s family set up a GoFundMe page to pay for a heart transplant.
John Franco’s family set up a GoFundMe page to pay for a heart transplant.

John Franco, an Old Bethpage native currently residing in Bethpage, has a rough road ahead of him—but his family has stepped up to give him the vital boost he needs to survive.

For their family patriarch, the Francos recently started a GoFundMe page that aims to support his quest to receive a heart transplant. And with a price tag of $55,000, the family needs all the help they can get from the community.

“He is one of the strongest and bravest men that we know,” said his wife, Debbie. “He always has a smile on his face for his family, no matter how much pain he is in. He has always put his family first, no matter what.”

According to the family, John has dealt with heart issues for the past 20 years. These issues have progressively gotten worse, and he has been in and out of the hospital many times for congestive heart failure and chest pains. Doctors recently discovered that his ejection fraction rate—the amount of blood that passes through the left side of his heart—was dangerously low. The doctors gave him only a few months to live unless he took drastic action.

That action came in the form of a Left Ventricular Asisst Device (LVAD), which doctors installed in the left side of his heart on June 10, 2016. The device—known as the “bridge to transplant”—saved John’s life; however, it is only a temporary solution.

John now finds himself on the New York heart transplant list waiting for a donor heart. As he waits, his doctor bills are piling up. This inspired Debbie, along with her and John’s adult children John Jr., Jesse, Michael and Dawn, to seek help on GoFundMe, where as of press time John has received $7,825 of the $55,000 he needs.

John Franco and wife Debbie
John Franco and wife Debbie

According to LiveOnNY, a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization, available organs are allocated according to medical urgency, degree of match to the donor and time waiting—which can range from weeks to many months.

Unfortunately, the latter is more often the case, according to the Columbia University Medical Center. The medical center said that this waiting time has been described by many transplant recipients and their families as the most difficult part of the transplant process.

The Franco family said that if they were to receive a call that a donor heart had been located, it would be the happiest and scariest moment at once—as it would be the culmination of a multitude of prayers and also just the beginning of the healing process.

But it is a process they know their dad can see through if he gains the support of the community at large.

“My dad is my hero,” said Dawn. “He has battled against some of the most unimaginable obstacles and soared over so many hurdles that only a true superhero could do.”

To contribute, visit the GoFundMe page.

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Steve Mosco, former editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, is a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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