UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Heals Sarah's Heart
When Sarah Kepreos was born at UH Geauga Medical Center in 2004, she was perfectly healthy, except for a slight heart murmur not uncommon in newborns. Her parents, Kristin and Jeff, followed up with their pediatrician as prescribed. "We weren’t incredibly worried on our way in, but it was quickly apparent that we should be," explained Kristin. "One look at the doctor's face and we knew nothing would be the same again."
Sarah was diagnosed with non-Williams familial arteriopathy, a profoundly rare heart defect that affects the arteries and can spread to the lungs. "When she was admitted to UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, they were shocked Sarah was even alive. They immediately started calling doctors around the country to consult with specialists that had treated patients with her condition,” said Kristin. "At just two months old, she had open heart surgery. It was the longest 12 hours of our lives."
In the weeks that followed, Sarah's health was touch and go but a dedicated team of Rainbow nurses and staff was there around-the-clock to support the Kepreos family. "The people at Rainbow are absolutely unbelievable," emphasized Kristin. "The nurses became a second family to us and one of the fellows that worked on Sarah's service is now one of my best friends. To this day, they still check in on Sarah."
Now in the eighth grade, Sarah has had three open heart surgeries and a handful of heart catheterizations. As she ages and her physical development slows, she should need fewer medical interventions. "She has limitations, but you wouldn’t know it meeting her,” said Jeff. "She’s 5'10" and a crazy competitive volleyball player. She stays active, monitors her own body and maintains an unbelievable level of optimism."
"She's just an amazing person," added Kristin. "She has the kindest, biggest heart even though, physically, her heart is the most complicated one in the room."