A heart valve transplant recipient is now making the most of her newfound strength. From struggling to go up the stairs, she now co-owns a gym and power lifts.


For much of Donna Pierce’s life, she could not perform activities that might require too much physical exertion because of her congenital heart disease. Even simple, everyday tasks such as going up a flight of stairs was a struggle to her. Now, Pierce is making the most of her life after receiving a heart valve from a 34-year-old woman.

From struggling to do even simple physical activities, Pierce now co-owns a gym and power lifts. Grateful for what she considers a gift, Pierce is determined not to take this chance for granted, especially considering that she came from not being able to do such activities before.

Congenital Heart Disease

A congenital heart defect is the most common type of birth defect and involves problems with the heart's structures. Specifically, it may affect the walls of the heart, the arteries and veins near the heart, and the valves of the heart.

Symptoms of congenital heart disease are often detected during the pregnancy or right after birth through physical exams and special heart tests. Some symptoms of congenital heart disease in newborns are rapid breathing, fatigue, poor circulation, and a bluish tint to the lips, skin, and fingernails. However, some children do not present symptoms at all and go undiagnosed until later on in childhood.

Heart Valve Surgery

Heart valve surgery is a procedure in which the doctor repairs or replaces the affected heart valves, whether by open-heart surgery or a minimally invasive procedure. Typically, those with mild to no symptoms are merely monitored overtime and may be recommended to make certain lifestyle changes.

However, those whose conditions are severe or worsening over time or those who experience symptoms of heart valve dysfunction may require heart valve surgery.

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