Someone You Should Know: Kristen Thomas
ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) — Do you ever feel like some people must surely have more than 24 hours in a day? Well, tonight’s Someone You Should Know may leave you with that feeling.
This week’s Someone You Should Know is Kristen Thomas, a mom and wife from St. Peter who is on a mission.
“I’m a full-time mom, wife, and work full-time. Also, I teach CPR and First Aid, just sort of on the side, and I’m a full-time volunteer with Lasting Imprint, which is a nonprofit,” Thomas said. “I also like to run and shop on the weekends, and as weird as it sounds, I like to do demolition derby. It is an interesting hobby, but it is something we do as a family on the weekends in the summer.”
She has full days to be sure, but Kristen Thomas wouldn’t have it any other way. She and her family have learned to make the most of each day and not take anything for granted.
Thomas says, “Amaya was born with an undiagnosed heart defect, it’s called pulmonary aplasia atresia. She is missing her right pulmonary artery, and she is missing all the vasculature that goes from the heart to the lungs. What that means is she not getting oxygen to the right side of her body,” Thomas said. “Finally, right before her first birthday, they were able to diagnose it, so she had two surgeries right away the first year then they were able to place a bovine cateragraph it’s called, so it’s from a pig or cadaver. It’s to get some blood flow and oxygen through her body, the downfall to that though is that they don’t grow with her, so they have to be replaced and she’s been through three of those. Her fourth one will be coming very shortly. So the hope is this will take her to the next stage and we’ll look at a transplant at that point.”
Thomas’ experiences with Amaya fuels her and her desire to make a difference, to make sure other families don’t go through what they did. So she helped create Lasting Imprint, a nonprofit that strives to create a supportive community in the fight against congenital heart defects through education, research and support.
“My first question to the doctors was, ‘is there a support group or is there a group of moms I can talk to?’ and there wasn’t. I did not want other moms to have to go through that rocky first year like we did in and out of hospitals, just that unknown, that undiagnosed unknown. Bringing your baby home and knowing something is wrong, but not knowing what it is. So there is just that fear.”
For more than a decade now, Lasting Imprint has been a crucial connection for families with similar diagnoses as Amaya, a connection that Thomas says also helps her.
“It’s my outlet, to be honest. People always ask me ‘how do you do it? How do you not break down? How do you not lose it during appointments or surgeries?’ I don’t want families to go through what we went through, so it’s a sense of peace for me maybe, or a calmness that I can drive that into volunteering.”
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