Miracle Monday: Spokane Valley woman with congenital heart disease gives birth to twins, overcomes health challenges

SPOKANE, Wash. — For many, a heart condition would be debilitating, but one Spokane Valley woman was able to beat the odds, thanks to her optimism and the extraordinary care of the doctors at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

Melissa Faucher was diagnosed with an Aortic Valve Stenosis, the narrowing of the aortic valve within the heart, on day 1. She was born in 1987 and at that time, ultra-sound and cardiograms didn’t share the kind of information we get in today’s technology, so it wasn’t until she arrived that doctors knew she had a heart condition.

Four weeks into life, she went into her first surgery for congestive heart failure. This marked the beginning of what would be 8 hearts-surgeries before she made it to her mid-30s. Dr. Jeremy Nicolarsen with Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease is one of the Pediatric Cardiologists who treated Melissa.

He told 4 News Now, “Melissa has been a part of our program since she was a baby. She essentially grew up in our office and was cared for by my partners.” Her story highlights one of the things Dr. Nicolarsen appreciates most about his career, saying, “A special part of what we do is the continuity of care over a lifetime.”

When Melissa approached her early-20s and realized she was ready to start her family, she knew she couldn’t go forward without the guidance from the team who had been treating her since birth. To make sure she was ready for pregnancy, she underwent several procedures to essentially reduce the risk of having a complication during that pregnancy that could impact her future child. She was able to successfully start her family—with two children only 12 months apart. After this, her providers recommended she take a break, because her heart’s condition had been impacted.

Years later, she and her husband decided to go for one more child, and were given the surprise of a lifetime.

“Oh my god, it’s twins—what am I going to do?” Melissa Faucher recalled saying. She knew that under these circumstances, her fragile heart would be working for three.

“Delivering twins is a challenging thing for any woman, especially one with heart disease,” said Dr. Nicolarsen.

She had a 4% chance of passing on a heart condition to any of her four children, and a 3% chance of having twins, and she landed the latter. All four of them are happy and healthy kids. Following her final pregnancy, her heart was in need of a little more help. Faucher said, “Almost a year ago, last February, I had my last open heart and they gave me a mechanical valve, so this should be the end of it.”

This one should last her a lifetime.

Faucher’s optimism and positivity about everything she’s been through is amazing, but as any mom or dad knows, it’s often the parents who bear the greatest heartbreak. Kris Englert, Melissa’s mom, says, “Dr. Garabedian has wiped away more tears from me than is usually his par for the course.”

The significance of Heart Month is significant to Englert as she recounts on of the most profound moments in her, and her daughter’s life, “The day she went in for 6-week check up and she had always had this incredible heart murmur… and I got to hear her heat beat for the first time and I just thought I’d lose my mind. It was just the best feeling in the world. So she’s my miracle, every day.”

Melissa and her mom encourage those who might be facing similar challenges to stay positive. “The surgery day is one day… the rest of your life is really, pretty normal”, and Faucher knows it could be worse. Her mom says, “If your child has to have a heart problem, this is the mecca — it is just the best” referring to Spokane’s Pediatric Cardiologists at Sacred Heart Children’s Medical Center.

With that care, Melissa is now looking forward to a lifetime with her family. She laughed and said, “I’m going to live to be an old lady, God willing and the creek don’t rise.”

This kind of care wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the provider’s at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and the support from the Children’s Miracle Network. Donation to the Children’s Miracle Network go straight to members of our community. If you’d like to be a part of this go here.

RELATED: Miracle Monday: Families overcome challenges of 2020 with support from Sacred Heart