'If I get too stressed I could collapse and die': Waddon teen raises awareness of rare heart condition
Imagine being told by doctors to never run for a bus because it could kill you.
That is what they said to teenager Shannon Donovan who was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia triggered by exercise or a surge in adrenaline.
The 17-year-old, from Waddon, was diagnosed with life threatening genetic disorder Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT), after collapsing regularly from the age of nine.
The condition, which affects one in 10,000 people was initially misdiagnosed as epilepsy, but Shannon's mum Julie insisted her condition was investigated further.
Shannon, who was a competitive gymnast, was forced to give up sport after being diagnosed with the condition, that causes her heart to stop before restarting.
She said: "Giving up gymnastics was horrible. I still miss doing it now- I had done it for nine years. I can do gentle exercise like pilates but that is not me.
"One of the first things I was told when I was diagnosed was not to do any exercise, but even before that I was aware my collapses were brought on by exercise and high stress."
The John Ruskin College pupil remembers collapsing after getting into an argument with another pupil at school and also suffered collapses during swimming, trampolining and at a gymnastics competition.
She said: "I was really angry, stormed out of the room and collapsed. It was treated as an epileptic seizure but in fact each collapse could have been fatal as my heart was stopping and restarting again.
"Now I don't like to get worked up because I am worried about collapsing."
With the help of medication and since undergoing an operation last year that involved having a device fitted to record her heart rhythm, Shannon has not collapsed for nearly three years.
Since Shannon's diagnosis she has been heavily involved in raising awareness about heart conditions in young people.
The health and social care student is urging people to raise money for Jeans for Genes Day on September 20, which will see a grant donated to Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a charity that provides care and support to children and young people with genetic disorders.
Shannon said: "When I was diagnosed I felt completely alone, CRY have a youth support group and run meetings where you can meet other people with genetic heart conditions."
For more on Jeans for Genes day visit jeansforgenesday.org
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