CHD Warrior Story: Frank Zillins

The CHD Warrior submission below was received from parents Adam and Jenn Zillins, mother of Frank Zillins.

Picture 1
(Frank Zillins, photo provided by Adam and Jenn Zillins)

My son, Frank Zillins, was born on October 5, 2017 in Ann Arbor Michigan with Dilated Cardiomyopathy. He has been hospitalized at Mott Children’s Hospital since birth. He is now 14 weeks old. He does not qualify for surgery because Cardiomyopathy cannot be cured or ‘fixed’ with surgery since his CHD is caused by an enlarged, weak heart muscle. The only cure is a new heart. Right now, he is on the donor list waiting for a heart, so he can have a transplant. We were told his waiting time for a new heart is 6-8 months based on his body type (height and weight), antibodies and location. Right now he is 8.4 pounds.

Picture 2
(Frank Zillins, photo provided by Adam and Jenn Zillins)

In the beginning, he had a difficult time gaining weight and absorbing feeds in his stomach. But a NICU fellow suggested MCT Oil which has worked and he’s been able to gain weight since! He is also on a specialized pre-digested formula called Alfamino since pregestimil didn’t work. Since he also has problems pooping, they are giving him prune juice and a rectal suppository pill once a day. The ICU Nurses mix the Alfamino with MCT Oil and prune juice and give it to him via feeding tube. He is also on the breathing ventilator because his heart is too weak to pump enough blood to the rest of the body that you may use.

We created an Instagram page for Baby Frank:

Thank you Adam and Jenn Zillins for sharing your story about little Frank. He is such a sweetheart, and I hope all the best for Frank and your family.
If you would like to submit a CHD Warrior story, please email me your story at

CHD Warrior Stories: Taking Submission

I am now accepting submissions for Congenital Heart Defect Warrior stories. These can be about children or adults, about people that are living or in memory of those we have lost. 

February is CHD Awareness month, so I’ll spend the month sharing my son’s CHD story and inviting others to charge theirs. I will post all submissions I receive, but I may make minor edits for grammar/spelling/language. 

Please include up to 3 pictures of the CHD Warrior and the Warrior’s family.

I would love to hear all of the amazing stories of strong, resilient people that go through so much, but bring such joy to our lives.

Please send an email to with your submission. Stories will be posted in the order they are received.

Thank You!


To Settle

I have spent my whole life settling.

In seventh grade I ‘dated’ a boy because I didn’t believe I could do better. Only now I look back and realize that boy was funny and fun to be around, but I never enjoyed going out with him, because I constantly felt as though I was being judged. In the end I was made fun of so much by the other kids in my class that I finally broke up with him. I was mean. It embarrasses me now. The funny thing is, I saw pictures of him about 10 years later, and he had…aged nicely, to say the least. I’m sorry I thought I settled. You¬†deserved better than my self esteem issues.

After years of odd comments, modeling swimsuits and clothes, awkward requests, and strange touching from my stepfather, he did something that I knew was wrong, and it scared me to my core. I settled for years with these odd occurrences to avoid confrontation with my mother and family, but I finally felt that this event was too much to keep to myself. I am extremely introverted, and I go out of my way to avoid confrontations. But, when I was 16, and he finally did something that I KNEW was not appropriate, I spoke to a counselor. I told her of everything I could remember that made me uncomfortable. I even told her about a memory of him, that I wasn’t sure if it was a memory or a nightmare, and that I still don’t know for sure which it was. She called social services, and police came to the house. My mother and stepfather denied everything. I’m not even sure that anything happened following that, because they never came back to speak with me. Instead, my mom kicked me out and made me live with my biological father. Later, I found out my sisters had experienced much of the same things, but after telling my mom, she denied and nothing was done. After high school was over, I was kicked out of my dad’s for lying about where I was one night. I ended up getting an apartment with a boy I barely knew. After he moved in, he decided finding a job wasn’t necessary. After a few months of barely paying the bills, I only finally forced him to leave when he hit me. I moved back in with my mom, because I was completely broke and didn’t know what else to do. My mom and stepfather made me promise never to call the cops or social services on my stepfather before I could stay there. I settled for being scared. After a year or so, I moved out on my own again. This time I had two jobs and school, but I managed to make it on my own. Not long after moving out, my stepfather died unexpectedly. My mother still denies the things he did. I settle for ignoring how much that hurts to be able to have a relationship with my mother.

When I joined the Air Force, I signed up for an Intelligence position. I settled for going in as Open General. For those that don’t know, that means that I could get any job that falls under the ‘General’ Category. I ended up with a Supply job. Eh. It was alright, but highly deployable.

When I got married, I settled for a tiny ceremony since we were living oversees, with the plans for a ceremony including family a year later in the States, which was planned and cancelled three times. I settled for no real wedding. I regret it.

After being with my spouse about 5 years, I wanted to divorce. Because we were about to be reassigned to a new location, I didn’t. I thought maybe a new location would help. Ever since, I have regretted that decision. I have settled in because it is easier than leaving. I am scared to say that I am done. I am scared to say that I want to move back to my home with my kids. I’m scared to take the kids from their father. I have settled in to avoid.

I can’t settle anymore. I need to Fight¬†my own fears. I have slowly started allowing me to be me. I have started opening up about who I am and what I want in life, but it has made the marriage even more strained, as I have realized how different we actually are now, compared to many years ago. I am trying to be me. I want to live this one any only life I get the way that I want.

I don’t want to settle anymore. I want to love my decisions. I want to love my life.