Three Young Women Who Suffered Broken Hearts Are Reunited on Valentine’s Day with the St. Francis Doctors Who Saved Them

ROSLYN, NY, February 14, 2014 – At first, Tara Funk thought she caught the same stomach virus as her son, so she ignored the terrible headache and nagging pain in her chest. But when her husband Michael came home and found the former marathon runner lying on the bathroom floor barely conscious, he immediately sprung into action. Michael rushed Tara to St. Francis Hospital and carried his dying young wife into the Emergency Room. When they got there, she was already in cardiac arrest and Newell Robison, M.D., Chairman of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, knew there was no time to spare. He quickly opened her chest and began massaging her heart – ultimately performing life-saving open heart surgery to repair an ascending aortic dissection, a potentially fatal condition resulting from a tear in the inner layer of that major blood vessel.

The 40-year-old Port Washington mother of two is one of three women who will be sharing a reunion this Valentine’s Day at St. Francis Hospital with the doctors who mended their broken hearts. Among them is 26-year old Danielle Mancuso, who at just one week old became the first female patient to survive a transposition of the greater artery procedure at St. Francis. After undergoing three open heart surgeries, Danielle grew up to become an avid fencer and is now an EKG technician who’s dedicated to diagnosing other people’s heart conditions. The native Long Islander who now lives in Tampa, Florida, will be reunited with Sean Levchuck, M.D., Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology. Dr. Levchuck was able to diagnose a subsequent cardiac problem long distance, preventing Danielle from undergoing a fourth round of open-heart surgery.

Danielle will be joined by 17-year-old Amanda Friedman of Miller Place. The aspiring Miss Long Island contestant, who wants to be the next American Idol, had a minimally invasive procedure last August to repair a hole in her heart that was similar to the ones Danielle was born with. But thanks to advances in technology, Amanda did not require open heart surgery and was back home the day after her procedure. The multi-talented singer/songwriter, who is also a high school tennis, badminton, and basketball player, says she considers Dr. Levchuck her greatest hero and has written a special song for him to express her heartfelt thanks when she’s reunited with him on Valentine’s Day.

Paul Barry, 516-705-6657,
Rosemary Gomez, 516-705-6656,