Rita suffers from idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. Rita currently lives in Nepi, Italy with her husband and two beautiful children Francesco (21 years old) and Erika (32 years old).
Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) is a sporadic form of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) characterised by elevated pulmonary arterial resistance leading to right heart failure. IPAH is progressive and potentially fatal and not associated with an underlying condition or family history of PAH.
Prevalence of PAH, in all of its forms, is estimated at around 1/67,000. IPAH is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms.
Despite receiving a late diagnosis, Rita has successfully fought and recovered from deterioration of both the lungs and heart thanks to Professor Galiè's team at the centre for Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension at the St. Orsola Hospital in Bologna.
Living with IPAH has had enormous repercussions on Rita's daily life: "Each new day is a challenge! Getting up in the morning and realising that today will be one of those days, where I am not strong enough to get out of bed; my heart's beating like crazy and reminds me that at any moment I might faint. If I look around I realise how many things I would like to do, but I cannot bend over to pick up something, I cannot make the bed or simply stroke a flower, or a child! I remember all the tears I shed, every time my son stretched his hands to come in my arms, I do not remember one time that I have been able to take him!"
However, Rita remains extremely positive with the support of her family and friends: "My only strength to keep going was to see my children grow up, and to ensure their future, and be there the day when they would go to the altar. On 31st May last year, I had the great joy of seeing my daughter get married. Three months before, I was told that if I had not undergone heart surgery my life would end soon, but the chances of success of the intervention were very few. Only the desire to be able to see my daughter dressed as a bride, was the thread of my courage! And here I am, ready to accept many other challenges. I have yet to see my son settled... I will succeed I'm sure, most certain indeed!"
Rita couldn't be more optimistic: "Of course, I have to go through many medical check-ups, but every morning when I get up and open the window, gazing at the sky, cloudy or blue that is, I am happy to be alive and to be able to do everything that I like!"
Despite her disease and its daily limitations, Rita tries to lead a normal life. She finds solace in collecting sea driftwood to make craft objects which, together with her daughter, she sells at craft markets. She even has a small website where her friends can view her creations: "All of my family is involved in this hobby, as it has always been close and has helped me to overcome the difficulties related to my illness".
In spite of her own struggles, Rita takes care of those around her, including her elderly mother.
"I am a normal and happy person and my greatest hope is that research will go forward fast enough to prevent many children enduring all the sufferings and difficulties that I have suffered in having a rare disease. Thank you for fighting with us."