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 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.

Prevea Health is proud to offer full-time pediatric cardiology services with specialists on-call after hours and on weekends. Pediatric cardiologists from Prevea Health in and the Medical College of Wisconsin make up this talented team that specialize in heart care for children ranging from infants to adolescents in Green Bay and Milwaukee.

Once the suspicious spot was identified 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 Medical College of Wisconsin, 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 the Prevea Pediatric Cardiology 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 the pediatric cardiology 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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