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Prevea Health

A Heart to Heal: Iris’ Story

Her mom will tell you that Iris Marie Karlen is the happiest baby you’ll ever meet.  At the age of one, Iris loves to observe the world around her, wave and say “bye-bye” and belly-laugh with her 5-year-old sister, Lila. 

“It’s hard to imagine our lives without her,” says Laura Karlen, Iris’ mom. 

In January 2015, life without Iris seemed like a possibility. At 4-days-old, Iris had an appointment for a jaundice check with Prevea Pediatrician, Dr. Thomas Huffer.  While listening to Iris’ heart, Dr. Huffer heard a murmur and referred her to Prevea’s team of pediatric cardiology experts in Green Bay. 

Testing performed by Dr. Anthony Cousineau and his team revealed a hole in Iris’ heart. In addition, an echocardiogram revealed a suspicious, well-hidden spot behind Iris’ heart. 

“The spot could’ve easily been missed and without them, we may never have caught it in time,” says Laura.

Pediatric cardiology specialists at Prevea Health work closely with the experts of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Once Dr. Cousineau’s sonographer identified the suspicious spot behind Iris’ heart, Iris was referred there for further testing. Tests revealed a hemangioma – a large mass made up of blood vessels – was entwined with two main arteries around Iris’ heart. This is a rare case as hemangiomas are typically found on the outside of infants’ bodies, on their skin. 

Thanks to state-of-the-art treatment provided by Prevea Pediatric Cardiology and coordinated care with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Iris is on the road to recovery. Her heart function has returned to normal and there are promising signs the hemangioma is shrinking. 

“It’s a huge relief to have pediatric cardiologists available here in Green Bay,” said Laura. “I couldn’t imagine having to drive far away for all of Iris’ appointments.” 

In addition to the high-quality care Iris is able to receive locally, Laura is grateful for the compassion Dr. Cousineau and his team showed to her as she struggled with the initial news of her baby’s critical heart condition. 

“It’s obvious they love what they do and that they care deeply for each patient that comes through the door,” said Laura. 

Like Dr. Cousineau’s team, all of Prevea Health’s pediatric specialists provide high-quality, local and compassionate care.  That leads to peace of mind for parents like Laura and ultimately healthier, happier babies like Iris. 

*Family portrait by Target Portrait Studio.

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