This page is dedicated to the ACHA family and friends whom we have lost. You can read their profiles here. We also invite you to submit a memorial on someone you loved who lived with ACHD for this website.
Please send your memorial submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the name of the person you are memorializing, along with your name and contact information. We encourage you to send a picture, but that is optional. Please keep your submission to 500 words or less.
James McNulty, who passed away on May 10, 2022, was a passionate advocate for the Adult Congenital Heart Association and served in several roles over the years in ACHA. In the early days of ACHA, he served as the Midwest representative of the organization. He was a speaker at numerous ACHA conferences and an avid fundraiser for the annual heart walks. At the time of his passing, he was a New England representative on the Patient and Family Advisory Board and hoped to advocate for better treatment options and advance scientific research. He lived with his congenital heart disease with great courage and resilience, never letting it curtail his goals. James was the husband of the late Karen Klein McNulty, ACHA’s co-founder and first president.
James graduated from the University of Chicago Lab High School and Drake University, and earned an MS in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the Illinois Institute of Technology. James was a brilliant, kind, generous and loving man, with a great sense of humor, who cared passionately about politics, current events, and the future of the country. A proud Chicagoan, he ended up making New England his home. He thoroughly enjoyed exploring New England, and especially loved Cape Ann.
Mercia grew up in New York City and graduated from Vassar College. After college, she lived in Brooklyn Heights overlooking Manhattan and loved it. During her New York City career, she worked in fundraising and development at an acting school, Crossroads Theatre, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The New York Botanical Gardens. She moved from New York City to Atlanta several years ago. In Atlanta, she worked in development at Georgia Public Broadcasting until she had to stop working for health reasons.
Mercia was born with a single ventricle, her pulmonary artery and aorta were stunted and transposed, and she had several holes in her heart. As a child, her cardiologist was Dr. Helen Taussig. Mercia’s first surgery was a Taussig Blalock shunt at the age of 16, which was performed at Johns Hopkins. She had a Fontan surgery at age 23, which was performed at the University of Alabama by Dr. John W. Kirklin, who refined the design of the heart lung machine via a pump-oxygenator, which made surgical repairs of congenital heart defects feasible under direct vision. In her early 40s, she had a pacemaker put in at Mount Sinai and began to take cardiac medications for the first time in her life. At 54, she went into congestive heart failure and required a Fontan revision surgery, which was performed at Texas Children’s Hospital by Dr. Charles Fraser, Jr. For the past thirteen years, Mercia was cared for by Drs. Rusty Rodriguez and Wendy Book at Emory’s Adult Congenital Heart Center. Unfortunately, she contracted COVID while visiting New York City and ended up in Cardiac Intensive Care at NYU Medical Center. After several weeks, she passed peacefully with her family by her side. She was 64 years old and one month shy of her 65th birthday.
Mercia never let her heart condition define her or stop her from doing anything. She exemplified determination and perseverance in everything she did. She benefitted from always receiving the best medical care in the county and she would want us to thank all of the doctors and nurses who cared for her.
In her forties, Mercia fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a mother. She traveled to Vietnam and adopted Natalie when Natalie was three months old. A few years later, Mercia traveled to China and adopted Elizabeth who was three years old.
During her life, Mercia actively mentored numerous women and truly changed the trajectory of their lives. She was an active member of the online Zipper Sisters. She was a devout Christian, a loving mother, and a true and loyal friend. She is survived by her two daughters, Natalie who is 20 and a Junior at Auburn University, and Lizzie who is 18 and a Senior at Walton High School. Her only regret in life would be that she left this earth too early.
At age 3, Brad Wuggazer met Dr. Philip J. Hofschire. From that day on, he told everyone that he wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist when he grew up.
It was always Brad's desire to make things better for those with congenital heart defects who came after him. To that end and for that purpose, Brad's family established the Brad's Heart of a Jayhawk Research Fund to hopefully (in some small way) fulfill that dream.
Dale Joseph Amorosia led a full life in spite of fighting the congenital heart disease of Shone's Syndrome.
This included graduating from the University of San Diego where he was the coxswain on the crew team for four years; working as a field representative in the State of California Assembly; and running for State Senate in Minnesota in 2016. He was working as a pharmacy technician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, when he passed away at age 43 in 2018.
But most importantly, Dale was a loving and caring brother, co-worker, son, and friend supporting the needy and underprivileged. To help individuals with CHD, the Dale Amorosia Heart Fund has been formed in conjunction with the Adult Congenital Heart Association, which he supported throughout his adult life. Donations to the Dale Amorosia Heart Fund will support ACHA’s research efforts by funding fellow grants.
To learn more from Dale's family about his life, and about the creation of his fund, click here.
On May 23, 2022, the world lost an amazing woman, my sister Donna (Salvucci) Turransky. She was an inspiration to everyone who knew her and she will be dearly missed by her family, friends and members of the ACHA community.
Donna was born on a sunny Valentine’s Day in 1958. When she was 2 years old she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. I never knew the technical term for it until later in my life, transposition of the great arteries (TGA), I just knew my sister was special. Her heart pumped differently than mine, she couldn’t do everything I could do, and as she was bluer than normal.
Donna spent many years as a child in and out of the hospitals. It was during one of her times in the hospital when she realized that she would like to become a nurse. She knew from her time in the hospital, how patients should be treated. Donna spent her life helping other people—as a nurse at Shore Hospital, a nurse case manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and as a peer mentor for ACHA. She taught patients how to advocate for themselves and had an influence on the doctors who cared for her and who she worked with. One doctor said Donna taught him to be not just a doctor, but also a caregiver.
At the time her CHD was discovered, the doctors told my parents that she would not live past the age of 5. When Donna was younger, the chances of surviving any surgery were small so my parents opted against it. With the help of some wonderful doctors and medical advances over the years, she was able to live a full life. At the time of her death, Donna was the oldest living person with unrepaired TGA.
She showed us how to live every moment of life to the fullest. She loved to travel, cruise, shop and more than anything spend time with her family. Donna and her husband Eliot bought a retirement condo in Cape Coral, FL, and she enjoyed winters there for the last decade.
Her ACHA theme song was “I Hope you Dance.” There is a line that says “may you never take one single breath for granted.” Donna never did. She never complained or felt sorry for herself. She took every opportunity to celebrate life and met every challenge head on. So while we miss her every day, we can honor her memory by never taking one single breath for granted. I encourage those she mentored to pay it forward. Remember the line from her theme song: When you get the choice to sit it out or dance... I hope you dance.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain …” —Author Vivian Greene