From Hole in Heart to Sharing Hope

dana-rivera-ps“I suffered a stroke at the age of 44,” says Dana Rivera, whose life changed in June 2009. “I was the picture of health, and I stopped off at a store to browse. I completely fainted. I suffered from a patent foramen ovale, which is an opening in your heart’s atrium wall. One in four people have it, but they don’t know it until, unfortunately, a clot develops, dislodges and goes through that hole, and that’s partially why the stroke occurred. It was a very dark time, I thought my whole life was over. What was normal to me was no longer normal. I was a patient at the neuro rehab center, which I describe as the boot camp where they begin your recovery. I felt very lucky with my stay there. About a year after the event, I decided to become a volunteer at UCLA. I want to share my story with other people to provide hope and encouragement.”

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