A SILENT killer has claimed the life of a Maryborough mum, just three months after she gave birth to her son.
Vanessa Kaarsberg, 22, was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy after she noticed she had shortness of breath and felt faint in the weeks after having her son, Gabriel.
When Vanessa arrived at Brisbane Royal and Women's Hospital her heart was enlarged and she was full of fluid.
She spent the next two months in hospital before she was discharged.
Her family believed Vanessa's health condition was stable, but on January 11 she died in her sleep.
Family friend Taleah Blayney said it appeared Vanessa had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, which was common in young adults with the condition.
She said Vanessa's family, including her brother Ryan, sisters Danaleigh and Michelle and her mum and dad, Bibiana and Lenny, wanted to let others know about the dangers of the rare condition, which is associated with pregnancy.
Ms Blayney said the condition was hard to diagnose because heart failure could mimic the symptoms of pregnancy.
"Affected women may recover normal heart function, stabilize on medicines, or progress to severe heart failure requiring mechanical support or heart transplantation," she said.
In the weeks following Vanessa's death, the Fraser Coast community and businesses dug deep, raising $8000 for her funeral and her children.
Ms Blayney said the family were incredibly grateful.
"Some of these people did not even know them and yet, put their hard earned money towards her funeral costs.
"Within 15 hours $5000 was raised. We were shocked.
"Vanessa's family all were wide-eyed and in disbelief.
"It helped them smile just that little bit during this terrible time."