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Great Graduates 2020: Francey Childress

Steele High School graduate had heart transplant; inspired by her animals to keep going

SAN ANTONIO – One KSAT12 2020 great graduate is set to graduate high school and wants to be a veterinarian, saying her pets are what kept her going after having a heart transplant eight years ago.

“When I was nine I started to have breathing troubles after we had gone to a water park,” Francey Childress said, describing what led her and her family to discover she would need a heart transplant.

She was rushed to a hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with a genetic swelling of the heart. Within one year of receiving her diagnosis, she received a heart transplant. Eight years later, Francey has beat the odds and is set to graduate from Steele High School, but it hasn’t been an easy journey for her.

“After that I’ve had to deal with the constant going to get cats (cat scans) done and checking on that and just having to think mentally about how everybody can get me sick,” Francey said. “It’s just a matter of time of who is going to get me sick.”

Francey plans on going to Abliene Christian University and wants to be a veterinarian. She says her cats at home are what motivated her to pull through her transplant.

“For a long time I was depressed and I just found that animals were the thing to keep me going,” Francey said.

Francey’s high school counselor, Charlene Darden, said it’s much more difficult for a student with a transplant to keep up with the school work because of the constant threat of getting sick. She says she has faith that Francey won’t let anything stop her from achieving her dreams.

“She is a very resilient,” Charlene Darden, said. “Even through adversity she’s always remained strong. I hope that she makes it. I hope that she gets that dream job.”


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