As ABC7 observes American Heart Month, we bring you the story of a young Virginia woman who has heart disease. Doctors say it's so bad that her heart resembles one of a person that's more than double her age. However, she's not letting it get her down.
Daniela Donovan,32, has all her heart desires - a loving husband, two beautiful children and a successful career.
But Daniela also holds something else near to her heart. Actually it's in her heart. A pacemaker is keeping this young mother alive.
Daniela's heart story started in December of 2010 after a sudden fainting spell. A doctor told her it was probably just stress, but eventually things got worse.
"I started feeling tired, nauseous and dizzy like once a month," explained Donovan. "Then it went to a couple of times a month. Then it was once a week. Then it was every day."
One day after Daniela almost passed out, her husband hurried her to the hospital. There, she was given an EKG and results showed she had MSMD, a disease that disrupts the pumping of the heart.
Daniela went right into surgery and was given the life-saving pacemaker. With a second chance at life, Daniela now focuses on spreading awareness.
"I wish I would have known that these symptoms were more serious," said Donovan. "I would have walked into my doctor's office and said look, take a look at me, something is not right, really not right."
Heart disease is the number one killer of women - a group Daniela is trying to reach. Her employer - jewelry company Silpada - is helping with the cause. They allow Daniela to share her story on the job and this month Silpada is donating a percentage of its heart-shaped jewelry sales to the American Heart Association. It's a blessing for Daniela who says life is the most precious jewel out there.