Titanium heart

By Daniela  Dávila (MEX)




Of the millions of challenges life presents, I never imagined that I would have to have heart surgery at my 23.


All my life I’ve done a lot of exercise (I’m not saying I was good); and for reasons of life I ended up in one of the sports that requires the greatest commitment, triathlon.


How did I get there? I don’t know, I don’t even know how to swim, I look like a fish running away from being caught and devoured in a taco. There are activities that become extremely addictive and I can only tell you that the triathlon is one of those. “Once you try it, there’s no going back.”


Training became to me what “This is Love” became to Bob Marley. It became part of my life and my routine. The truth is that I didn’t mind at all stopping going out or drinking and changing those plans for early alarms to go to training. The fit community is very cool and an avo toast with egg after a long run is THE BEST.


Nani, what’s that got to do with it?


Without a doubt, what I like to do the most is to run and if someone had told me 10 years ago; “Dani, when you’re 23, you’re going to love to run and thanks to that you’re going to find a hole in your heart” . So I’d rather tell them the whole story


On November 10th I ran my 4th half-marathon. After running, my lips always turn purple (as if it was very cold) and that’s something my mom didn’t like at all. That Sunday was no exception, but this time something else was strange, I felt short of breath and it took me longer than usual to recover.     


Three days later I went to an immunologist/cardiologist. I told him that a few months ago I had had a “spirometry” to measure the amount of air my lungs could hold and that I was worried that my illnesses had some relation to the heart. With one hand on his waist, the doctor said, “I can assure you from your physical appearance that you have absolutely nothing in your heart and we just need to increase the duration of your inhalers” (oh yes, I have had asthma since I was 19). OBVIOUSLY my mom did not stay quiet and insisted to  check up my heart, they put me on the wires for a cardiogram and CHA CHA CHAN, found an arrhythmia that seemed harmless. Dr. “you’ve got nothing” didn’t get much of a kick out of it, so he sent me straight to the echocardiogram.


As I entered the studio my little legs were shaking, I kept hoping that I had anything but a serious heart condition. When they were finishing the study, a new doctor asked, “Do you know what a heart  murmur is,” I was completely speechless and when she saw that I didn’t say anything in my best attempt to calm me down, the doctor said, “Don’t worry, you don’t have that.


I hadn’t even put my little butt on the office chair when the doctor blurted out this wonderful phrase, "You have a big hole in your heart and you have to have surgery. [Read in slow motion].


I’d love to tell them not to cry and that from the minute you take it in the best way; the reality is that I couldn’t stop turning the damn hole in my heart, for entertainment purposes we’ll call it Don Hoyo (like Don Goyo, get it? El popocatépetl? ).


I can’t tell you which of these three things hurt me the most: 1.The subtlety with which doctor "you have nothing" gave me the diagnosis  2. Seeing that my mom wouldn’t stop crying. 3. That I had to have heart surgery when I was 23.


What is Don Hoyo?

It’s an interauricular communication (IAC). A hole between the two atria of the heart, which causes pressure to be generated in my lungs and the unoxygenated blood to mix with the unoxygenated blood, something like a badly prepared gin and tonic. In other words; I DIDN’T BREATHE ANYTHING when my heart was racing and if I didn’t have surgery before I was 25 I was a candidate for a heart transplant. By the way, MOMS ALWAYS HAVE REASON. Thank you, Ma, for insisting on taking me to the doctor and having my heart checked.   


How did this happen with so much exercise?

Exercising was the best/worst thing that ever happened to me for my health, it made my vital signs a hundred percent and therefore I had never had any symptoms of Don Hoyo. However, too much exercise raises the heart rate by 80%, which makes unoxygenated blood flow much more into the unoxygenated blood. Over the years Don Hoyo grew and before he was covered on December 5, 2019 at 10:45am, DOn Goyo size was 2.7cmsl, more or less like a 5 pesos coin. Welcome titanium heart, goodbye Don Hoyo.

Before I knew that I had a crater in my heart I registered for the Chicago Marathon draw with people very close to me and I love it very much. For those who don’t know, registrations are raffled off among thousands of runners. When I found out I was going to have surgery, I talked to Victor, my favorite cardiologist (he’s cool, not like Dr. "You Have Nothing”), and he said, “I give you a chance to run, but it’s the only marathon you’ll ever run. Clearly it’s not something anyone wants to hear but I’d settle for running Chicago with the people I love so much if we all got in the draw. I am VERY intense when it comes to running and Chicago became THE goal for 2020, I was urging them to announce the draw to get my number ASAP.


December 12, the day of the draw for Chicago, arrived and I was woken by a message from Ger: "We’re going to Chicago. [Attached, screenshot of the confirmation email]. Half an hour later, the same message from Fer my cousin. This happen all morning, and I don’t get my email, not to mention those who published their inscription on Instagram, FOMO 100%, that’s why I didn’t answer anyone’s messages and instead I decided to watch This Is Us (as if that show didn’t make you cry anymore). I was so angry that I told my mom, "I'll never run in my life again.” [Slams her bedroom door] If I’m only going to run a marathon in life I want to do it with the people I love the most, I did throw myself into the drama but you’ll understand that it had been a complicated few weeks.


After a few hours locked up, Ger came to “apapacharme”, I gave him a private performance of my “I didn’t get my inscription of Chicago and I’ll never run again” monologue. After my drama Ger said: “Lanani (ah yes, he nickname me as Nani), let’s run Chicago together. I talked to the American Heart Association and told them your story, they want you to run for their foundation, you’re going to run to help people who have heart problems like you.

In addition to the general draw, the Chicago Marathon gives some foundations numbers and they decide who runs representing their cause and mission.  

Running Chicago is no longer a tantrum, it’s an attainable goal with much greater meaning for me. I tell you my story because a few years ago I learned the value and scope of telling your story.


I am donating my 42,195 kms and I would love it if you are reading this to help me donate to exceed the $1750 goal.



I learn that my heart surgery is no limitation for running Chicago

I don’t run it for me, I run it for someone else’s heart.


Our website uses cookies to provide a better service. By using the website or clicking OK, you agree to our privacy policy. Read more