By Guest Blogger Sarah Fedele, director of marketing and communications for American Heart Association

“I’m reminded every day of the things I could have missed. My daughter Gillian got engaged last year. Being part of the planning and witnessing “say yes to the dress” was special. I was able to see her walk down the aisle and marry Calan, the man she loves. Having that special time to share with the ones I love – is priceless,” shared Frann.

In total, Frann coded 20 times. A heart attack was not the present she was expecting for her birthday, but it was her wake-up call.

Frann Paige was a healthy and happy wife, mother, art teacher at Clemmons Elementary School, and calligraphy instructor at Forsyth Tech. Friday, June 19, 2015 was her 55th birthday. Frann worked very hard in her classroom that day and after school, she went out for a birthday dinner with her husband, Stephen.

“I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t stand,” recalled Frann. “I felt very dizzy but felt better by dinnertime, and when I woke up the next morning, I felt absolutely fine.”

On Monday, she drove her mom, Jan Kallet, up to Blowing Rock. “I should have known something was wrong when I didn’t buy anything that day,” she said with a laugh. The next day, she drove her mom to the airport and still felt fine.

“On Wednesday, I had a lovely dinner with Stephen and I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible heartburn,” shared Frann. “I also had a horrible pain in my jaw and was just sweaty all over.”

Several times since her birthday, Stephen had suggested that she go see a doctor or go to the emergency room, but Frann responded, “I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong,” thinking she just caught the flu or a virus.  “I kept ignoring all the signs,” Frann remembered.

On Thursday morning, she drove herself to her doctor’s office. Within 10 minutes, the doctor performed an EKG. Frann called her husband and said, “An ambulance is coming and they are taking me to the emergency room at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. They said something is wrong with my heart, but I don’t believe it. It’s probably just the flu.”

That was the last thing Frann remembered until three and a half weeks lager.

The doctors were still working on Frann when she had started to code. “By the end of it, I had coded 19 times,” said Frann.

“With the support of a chaplain, counselor and the lead cardiac ICU nurse, Stephen was informed of my status and was told I was probably not going to make it. He was encouraged to call the family,” shared Frann.

Since she wasn’t stabilizing, the doctor’s placed Frann in an induced coma. Her mom flew back down, her two daughters Meredith and Gillian, who were away at summer jobs, returned home immediately, and her husband stayed by her side. Exactly one week into the coma, they tried to take Frann off the ventilator and she coded again that evening for the 20th time.

She stabilized after three and a half weeks in the coma, and shortly after she awoke, doctors implanted a defibrillator in Frann’s chest.

“Waking up in the hospital and seeing my children’s faces and seeing my husband, made me want to live for my future. You never know things are going to be taken away from you until they are. I got a wake-up call for my birthday,” shared Frann. “Now, I’m listening to my body and teaching my daughters and anyone who is willing to listen and learn the signs of a heart attack in women.”

“From a doctor telling my husband that it was a strong possibility that I was not going to make it – to me fighting and making it – is amazing. I feel lucky and give thanks every day for the joy of living,” shared Frann.

As a past Forsyth County Go Red Woman, Frann continues to share her story to help prevent heart disease in women. Since 2013, Novant Health and the American Heart Association have been celebrating local women survivors and supporting all women in their unique health journeys.

“I love to share all that I have learned from the American Heart Association with everyone.  I especially share things with my daughters, Gillian and Meredith and my husband Stephen. I encourage my daughters to stay healthy by exercising. They rock climb, snowboard, and hike. I also suggest doctor’s visit since heart disease is hereditary in my family. I cook with no sodium and there’s not a salt shaker on my table. We all love to share heart healthy recipes,” said Frann.

Go Red for Women is nationally sponsored by CVS Health and Novant Health is the Forsyth Go Red for Women sponsor.

The American Heart Association and Novant Health invite you to wear your red in celebration of women’s heart health. February is American Heart Month and Friday, February 4 is National Wear Red Day. Wear your red and share your red with #GoRedTriad.


For upcoming Go Red for Women events or to get involved, visit

For heart disease and stroke news, prevention tips, healthy recipes, and more local stories like Frann’s, follow us on Facebook @AHANorthCarolina, and on Twitter @American_Heart or on Instagram @AmericanHeartNC.

*Sponsored by American Heart Association