Happiest day for heart girl

Donna (nee Willetts) and her new husband Steven Price on their wedding day.
Donna (nee Willetts) and her new husband Steven Price on their wedding day.

A BRAVE heart patient had the fairytale wedding she always dreamed of and said: “I’m the happiest woman in the world.”

Donna Willetts and Steven Price tied the knot in front of 170 guests at St Mary’s Church, in Horden, during glorious sunshine.

The couple, both 22, said their special day went without a hitch and they could not have asked for more.

Donna, a carer, said: “It was excellent, everything went perfectly.

“There were lots of tears, especially from me when I was walking down the aisle and I saw Steven – that set me off.

“He has made me the happiest woman in the world.”

The Hartlepool Mail reported last week how Donna had battled back from the brink of death as a youngster and endured countless operations after medics discovered a hole in her heart and four defects when she was just two.

The Mail had regularly charted the progress of Donna, whose surname was then Dixon.

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 was a flowergirl at the wedding.

Donna, who still has check-ups and will need another artery fitted when it gets narrower in five to 10 years, said Caitlin had fallen out of the horse-drawn carriage which took the wedding party to church.

But she was given a cold compress by the photographer and was fine.

Donna was 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 said: “We had a big photo of my dad at the altar so he was watching over us.”

The wedding was followed by a reception at Shotton Hall Banqueting Suites in Peterlee.

The couple’s first dance was to Take That’s Rule The World.

Donna’s mum, Tracy Topping, 40, paid for the couple to stay at Hardwicke Hall, in Blackhall, as well as for champagne on ice, dressing gowns emblazoned with “Mr and Mrs Price” and rose petals on their bed.

Steven’s dad and stepmum Steve and Deb announced during the reception that they had named two stars after the couple.

Donna thanked her mum and stepdad Martin, 56, Steve and Deb, Russell and maternal grandparents Isabel and John Blevins for their support.