Dana Leah Reese Miller, 37, of Roanoke Virginia passed comfortably after a heroic battle against Loeys-Dietz syndrome in the Cardiothoracic-Vascular ICU at the University of Virginia Health Hospital in Charlottesville on Saturday morning April 16, 2022; she had just completed her 12th and 13th major surgery within the past four years. She was surrounded by her husband James, her father Wayne and his wife Linda, and brother-in-law James. Dana was born on July 27, 1984 at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount, Virginia and was the second child born to the union of Wayne L. Reese and Sandra “Sandy” Braswell Reese.
Dana was educated in the Franklin County Schools. She went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the American National University in Salem, Virginia where she met the love of her life James. James and Dana were inseparable from that point on and were best friends and partners in life. James was a devoted husband and he took extremely good care of her. He was very protective of her in all circumstances and she will always be his hero. When asked to describe Dana these are things that come to mind: inquisitive, spontaneous, precocious, direct, determined, focused, productive, driven, smart, thoughtful, loving, loved to learn new things and she loved all animals large and small. Dana was a very hard worker and was devastated when she was forced to apply for disability last summer. She was planning on returning to the workforce as soon as these two “final” aorta surgeries and her right total ankle were completed by the end of this year.
Dana’s mother had been adopted, so she had no family health and/or medical history from her biological parents or their families. Sandy had subtle signs of health issues throughout her life, such as scoliosis and dislocations, but she was a busy mom with a husband and two children to raise. In 2002, major health issues began to develop. Before she had a diagnosis, she and Wayne were in a serious vascular emergency. At this time, Sandy was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which is a genetic condition that affects the body’s connective tissue. It’s found all throughout the body. It affects your skin, skeleton, spine, feet, eyes, heart, blood vessels and lungs. Sandy passed away May 24, 2003 at age 49, not knowing that her daughter inherited this genetic disorder. Dana was age 18 when her mother died, and her father encouraged her to go see a cardiologist. Her diagnosis was more fine tuned than was her mother’s because of more research. She was diagnosed with Loeys-Dietz syndrome and since this condition is so rare, it was only discovered in 2005 after years of studies and research had been completed. From infancy on she suffered from; cleft palate, club feet, joint dislocations, scoliosis, translucent skin, frequent migraines, etc. The life expectancy of those with Loeys-Dietz syndrome is estimated to be around 37 years old, but some can live much longer, into their 70’s. Dana was a fighter and was determined to beat this, but there were greater plans for her in her heavenly home free of pain and suffering. She will always be our hero. We would like to thank all of her healthcare providers, which are to numerous to list, here in the Roanoke Valley, Charlottesville and Richmond. Anyone wanting more information or would like to support research in Dana’s name, refer to the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation at loeysdietz.org.
Dana was preceded in death by her mother, Sandra “Sandy” Braswell Reese, her maternal grandparents, Lon H. and Ella Mae Franklin Braswell and her paternal grandfather Garland L. Reese, along with many other family members and pets. Left to cherish her memory is her loving husband James A. Miller and her fur baby Zoey, her father Wayne L. Reese and wife Linda, her brother Michael W. Reese, her paternal grandmother Charlotte M. Reese, her brother-in-law James L. Avis and wife Jessi, all of Roanoke. She is also survived by numerous other family members and a host of friends. At her request, her ashes will be placed in the niche along with her mother’s in Sherwood Memorial Park, Salem; there will be no service and interment will be private. We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and condolences during this most difficult time.
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