Professor Francine Leca

A life in the service of children

Francine Leca is a pioneer, the first female cardiac surgeon in France, head of the cardiac surgery department at the Laennec and Necker hospitals, she founded Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque in 1996.

Born in 1938 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Francine Leca studied medicine at a very young age. During an internship in Professor Jean Mathey's cardiac surgery department at the Laennec Hospital, she witnessed her first open-heart operation. It was love at first sight. Her vocation was born: she would repair hearts!

"From then on, nothing would stop her: neither illness, nor travels to the four corners of the world to save children, nor desperate cases, such as that of little Abdel, whom she had to give up operating on, nor failures, with death, always terrible, never tamed.


After becoming an intern at the Paris hospitals, she discovered cardiac surgery for children with Professor George Lemoine. She specialised in congenital heart disease and became the first woman heart surgeon in France.

Head of the cardiac surgery departments of the Laennec and Necker hospitals (Paris) until 2003, Professor Leca was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in 1995, an Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite in 2009 and a Grand Officier in the Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur in 2019.


"It's a very nice word, patronage. A patron is someone who will give time, money... And is there a more beautiful work of art than the heart of a child? Francine Leca

In 1996, she decided to commit herself to the children of the world and founded Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque. Thanks to her commitment and that of more than 350 host families, volunteers and referring doctors, nearly 4000 children have been operated on in nine hospitals in France since 1996.

Podcast Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque : "At the heart of the action". 1996, Francine Leca receives a letter from a desperate father. A heartfelt story.

Podcast: Vieille Branche "Sonder les Cœurs" with Francine Leca, hosted by Marie Misset, produced by Nouvelles Écoutes, in partnership with Radio Nova.

Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque / Tour de France

Tour de France: 20th anniversary and 21 children saved!

This 2023 edition has been exceptional, as we celebrate 20 years of presence on the Tour de France. Two decades that have enabled us to save 358 children's hearts thanks to our fund-raising activities on the event, and soon 21 more little hearts, operated on thanks to this 2023 edition.

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Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

24 Heures du Mans: 21 children saved - a record!

This year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans celebrated its centenary. As the official association, we wanted to mark the occasion with a symbolic fundraising goal: to save 24 children from heart disease! Although we didn't reach our target, we're delighted to have been able to finance operations for 21 children at the end of the event... a record!

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