Kreis: Untreatable heart condition took daughter

Published 11:00 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

When Patty Kreis talks about the work being done by the American Heart Association, her eyes get misty. She can’t help but think, “if only …”

Patty Kreis lost her daughter Lee Ann Kreis to a heart condition on June 30, 1992. She was 13 years old.

“The doctors in Birmingham had told us they were going to bring Lee back in three to six months and fix her, but her heart just wore out,” Kreis said. “If Lee had been born today, her heart could be fixed. But in 1979, no one knew how to fix her.”

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Lee Ann Kreis was born with a hole in her heart and a valve that sent the blood flow in the wrong direction.

Less than a week after she was born, her parents were told to go home and pack and prepare for their baby’s surgery.

“Over the years, Lee had several surgeries to put in shunts,” Kreis said. “When she was in fourth grade, a Blalock shunt was put in and, for the first time, Lee’s coloring was pink, normal. The blue tint was gone. We felt good about her.”

When Lee was in fifth grade, two rods were inserted in her back to help correct a scoliosis condition.

“She had many catherizations over the years where balloons were blown up to help the blood flow,” Kreis said. “We always had hope that Lee’s condition could be fixed. And, we were close. Three to six months. That’s what the doctors said.”

On the day of Lee Ann Kreis’ death, she was feeling good and there was no indication that anything was wrong. Then she collapsed. Her heart had given out.

“When Lee was born, the doctors didn’t know any way to repair her heart,” Kreis said. “Today, babies born with that condition have a chance because doctors know to fix those holes. That’s why I’m passionate about my support of the Pike County Heart Walk and the American Cancer Society. If we don’t support heart research, nothing more is going to be fixed.

“Just think about it. A cure has been found for polio and for many cancers. We’ve got vaccines for chicken pox and shingles. If it weren’t for research we wouldn’t have these things. Research takes time and it’s not cheap. It’s very expensive but it’s the only way that we can find cures for heart disease, cancer and other diseases and find ways to prevent diseases. It’s the only way.”

If Lee Ann Kreis had lived three to six months longer, she would be 35 years old on June 30, 2014.

“Cures can be even closer than that,” Kreis said. “That’s why it’s so important to give to research into anything you’re passionate about. Help any way you can. I’m passionate about heart research because heart disease took the life of my little girl.”

The Pike County Heart Walk will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the Troy Sportsplex.

Everyone is invited to help find a cure for heart disease by supporting the Heart Walk and the American Cancer Society.