While 18-year-old Katelyn Lee participated in Morgan High’s School graduation ceremony a few weeks ago, her mother wasn’t in the audience. But that didn’t mean a mother’s heart wasn’t with her daughter. At the moment Katelyn walked across the stage, her mother’s heart was literally in the capable hands of doctors 75 miles away undergoing life-saving heart surgery. The MHS senior class wore red ribbons at commencement to honor Katelyn’s mother, Frances Hall Lee, a life-long county resident.
Frances and her high school sweetheart, Kody Lee, are also MHS graduates, but 22 years earlier than their daughter. The couple has another daughter, Karina, 16.
Frances was first diagnosed with Stage 4 heart failure in 2012, when she received a pacemaker-defibrillator device. She has been actively battling heart disease ever since.
Her condition worsened lately, when she was admitted to McKay Dee hospital May 16 with pneumonia. Three days later, she was transferred to Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City in extreme critical condition. On May 27, she received a left ventricular assistance device, or LVAD. The battery-operated Heart-Ware pump will help Frances survive until she can receive a heart transplant, which could take years.
Until then, Morgan is rallying around Frances. The Morgan EMT crew is receiving training on her LVAD equipment. While her condition has now stabilized enough for her to return home, “Fran” is on the road to recovery and waiting on that roller coaster ride otherwise known as the transplant list. While the LVAD is FDA approved for long-term use, doctors have said Frances’s best chances are with a transplant. The average wait for a donor heart is two years.
The community is rallying around Frances and her family, keenly aware of the insurmountable medical bills that are coming her way. When she returned home Saturday, June 11, it was to a trail of well wishers and red ribbons along the road.
On Saturday, June 25, the community will hold a fundraiser for “Fran’s Fight” at the MHS football field from 4 to 9 p.m. There will be a silent auction, raffle drawings every 30 minutes, dinner starting at 6 p.m., and snacks. Please contact Becky Heiner (801) 821-0346 or Michelle Hunt (801) 829-8295 by Saturday, June 18 if you have items to donate.
The evening will include a life-sized Jenga tournament (with the winner taking the game home), three life-sized Kerplunk tournaments, tic-tac-toe, water balloon games, face painting and children’s fishing pond. Entertainment will include the Morgan High School Millenial Choir, Morgan Academy of Dance, a lip sync battle, Kaden Wiese, Flashbacc Part Deux, and Hailey Kilburn-Jones & Misty Kilburn-Wiese.
A fund in Frances’s name has been established at 1st Bank as well.
Another option is Fran’s Fight gofund me account at https://www.gofundme.com/25es2sk. In less than a month, 42 people have donated a $3,000 pool of money.
“As you can imagine, four weeks in the hospital and receiving such a specialized piece of equipment isn’t cheap,” said her sister-in-law Kacy Wilson. “She has a long road ahead of her. Your continued donations are greatly appreciated.”