‘I always wanted a fairytale wedding ... now it’s happening’

Donna and Steven with daughter Caitlin.
Donna and Steven with daughter Caitlin.

A BRAVE heart patient who fought back from the brink of death as a youngster will get the fairytale wedding she always dreamed of when she marries her sweetheart this weekend.

Donna Willetts endured countless operations as a little girl after medics discovered a hole in her heart and four defects when she was just two. The Mail regularly charted the progress of Donna, whose surname then was Dixon.

Donna aged six with mum Tracy

Donna aged six with mum Tracy

On Sunday her dreams will come true when she marries her long-term love Steven Price, 22, who proposed four years ago in front of 150 people at a Blackpool theatre.

Donna, also 22, said: “I have always wanted a fairytale wedding and now it’s happening.Steven is the best I could ever wish for. I can’t wait.”

Donna has had four rounds of open heart surgery, multiple MRI scans and had to have three procedures to have catheters inserted. When she was six she had an operation to have her arteries widened at the Newcastle Freeman Hospital. A series of check-ups followed and when she was 18, Donna had major surgery to have an artificial artery replaced and a balloon put in to make it wider.

Medics told her she would not be able to have children as the chances of herself and her newborn surviving were slim.

But Donna, of Horden, defied the odds when she gave birth to Caitlin, now two, who will be a flowergirl at the wedding.

Donna will be walked down the aisle by her grandfather, Russell Willetts, as her dad, Mark, died after an 18-month battle with lung cancer in 2008 aged just 37.

Donna, who still has check-ups and will need another artery fitted when it gets narrower in five to 10 years, got together with bricklayer Steven five years ago and has been planning her wedding since February last year. Donna’s mum Tracy Topping, 40, who is married to Martin, 56, said: “I’m so relieved because I never thought I see her get married. It’s lovely to see her doing so well and I know her partner is brilliant and loves her to bits.”

The couple will tie the knot in front of 120 guests at St Mary’s Church, in Blackhills Road, Horden. A reception will be held at Shotton Hall Banqueting Suites, in Peterlee.

Donna, who will wear an ivory diamante encrusted ruffle dress, will be transported to the church in a horse-drawn carriage provided by the same company that laid on a carriage for singer Cheryl Cole. White doves will be released during the ceremony.

As well as Caitlin, four-year-old Ellie Blevins will be a flowergirl. Bridesmaids will be Emma Hume, 22, Sarah Newton, 22, Steven’s sister Bethany Price, 12, and Leanne McConachie, 12.