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Where Are They Now? Catching Up With People From 2017, part 2

Published: February 10, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Pictured fourth from left is Emma Iannini with fellow teachers from Shanghai Jincai International Middle School in China during a Children's Day field trip to one of Shanghai's botanical gardens. (photo courtesy Emma Iannini)
Pictured fourth from left is Emma Iannini with fellow teachers from Shanghai Jincai International Middle School in China during a Children's Day field trip to one of Shanghai's botanical gardens. (photo courtesy Emma Iannini)
Dan Krauss was able to celebrate Christmas with his wife Betsy and daughter Rachel last year thanks to receiving a life-saving heart transplant earlier in April. (photo courtesy Dan Krauss)
Dan Krauss was able to celebrate Christmas with his wife Betsy and daughter Rachel last year thanks to receiving a life-saving heart transplant earlier in April. (photo courtesy Dan Krauss)

There are countless people featured in The Newtown Bee every week, but many times the story in the paper is just a snippet of a person's ever-continuing journey.


In those cases, as time goes on, many begin to wonder, whatever happened to that person they read about?


In the second installment of this two-part story, The Newtown Bee reached out to some of those highlighted in articles from 2017, to find out what they have been up to since the article was published.


Teacher In China


Growing up in Newtown, Emma Iannini learned French at an early age at Fraser Woods Montessori School, crafting her fluency while living in France, and later took on learning Chinese in high school at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford.


She continued to study Chinese while attending Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service for international relations.


Her gift of languages and interest in international affairs led her to embark on a spring semester of teaching American culture/history and French culture/history to 11-to-13-year-old students at Shanghai Jincai International Middle School in China.


In April, Ms Iannini spoke to The Newtown Bee about what her experience had been like so far in China.


She taught more than 400 students at the middle school, as well as four students that she privately tutored in French and English.


"Seeing the students that I taught who seemed to be really inspired and excited about venturing beyond their own country and doing good work abroad, I could see sort of the lights fire up in their eyes when I talked about things that intrigued them," Ms Iannini said. "It was really exciting to me, as their teacher, to sort of envision for them [their] future… studying abroad and hopefully contributing to all the good things we've got going on in our world."


When the semester ended around the end of June, Ms Iannini spent the remainder of her summer traveling the region gaining insight to the different local cultures.


In China, she went to the western city of Xi'an, an ancient capital that has terracotta warriors, and to Beijing, around the time of the One Belt One Road conference, with her parents.


"Apart from that, I did most of my traveling outside of China," Ms Iannini said. "I started in Australia and went to see a dear friend of mine who worked on the Clinton campaign with me and who is also an Australian citizen… I stayed with her in Sydney for a week, then I worked my way back up through Indonesia; Bali for a week; then I met up with my mother in Thailand for my birthday. Then we were in Cambodia and ended in Vietnam… I also went to Korea for a weekend."


After a month of extensive traveling, she returned home just in time to move into her apartment in New York City to begin her first semester at the New York University School of Law, graduating Class of 2020.


"I want to focus on international transactional law, which is basically helping facilitate investments from people in different countries to fund corporations or different sorts of joint ventures beyond the borders of wherever they're from," Ms Iannini said. "I want to use my languages and use all that I've learned about the world through my travels and international family to facilitate that."


Looking ahead to this summer, she is interested in working for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris (OECD) and continuing her gun violence prevention work in New York City and back home in Connecticut.


"I feel a duty to try and give back to the community where I come from. I'm still very proud to be a Newtowner, and I want to make sure that no community has to experience the type of horror we saw five years ago," she said.


Heart Transplant Recipient


Newtown resident Dan Krauss chronicled his decade-long struggle with heart disease in The Newtown Bee's "For Better Health" special that ran in October. He had undergone heart transplant surgery in April and was inspired to use his experience to advocate for people to sign up for becoming a donor.


At the time of the interview, Mr Krauss was just a few weeks shy of his six-month recovery milestone from heart transplant surgery.


Now, after almost ten months of recovery, Mr Krauss is continuing to regain his health and is enjoying his new lease on life by spending as much quality time with his family as he can.


"I feel pretty good," Mr Krauss said. "My only problem is I still get tired very easily. I think that's going to be a long-term issue… My leg is weak, but I'm learning to live with that."


Coming to terms with the fatigue as well as the nerve damage he received from the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) life support machine that he was hooked up to after his heart transplant surgery, has been an adjustment, but he continues to stay active.


Mr Krauss regularly works out at The Edge in Danbury to help regain strength, and he even was able to go skiing with his daughter Rachel the Friday before Christmas.


"I was an avid skier for years, but when I had the LVAD [left ventricular assist device] I wasn't allowed to ski," he said, explaining that the activity could risk tearing the pump and causing serious problems.


Mr Krauss was "thrilled" to ski again, despite the experience being shorter than he had hoped.


"I got tired pretty quickly, so we wound up stopping, but still it was nice to get out," he said.


Since the article on Mr Krauss was published, he has accomplished other milestones like being able to go out in public without a surgical mask and being able to decrease some of his medications.


"I was on three rejection meds, now I'm on two. They also took me off an antibiotic, an antifungal, and an antiviral at six months," Mr Krauss said. "The further you get [from the surgery], the more your body gets used to the organ and the risk of rejection goes down."


Also, after having to undergo biopsies on his heart every week after surgery, he now only does them once every other month. Soon he will even be switched from biopsies to a blood test called AlloMap, which is a noninvasive measure to check if there are signs of rejection in his heart.


Mr Krauss says his doctors say his heart is "doing really well" and that it is always nice to see cardiologist Dr Ulrich Jorde at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., who performed his life-saving heart transplant surgery.


To thank the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff at Montefiore, Mr Krauss, his wife Betsy, and his daughter brought them cookies during the holidays.


"People there were always shocked, because they were used to seeing me in bed and now I'm standing up and they didn't realize how tall I am," Mr Krauss said with a laugh.


The experience, though, was also humbling in that it made him realize how incredibly sick he was to have been in the ICU.


Health since surgery has not been perfect, Mr Krauss admits, saying there have been a few occasions since receiving the transplant that caused him to go to the hospital's emergency room.


"I felt terrible the day before Thanksgiving," he said. Suddenly his chest was bothering him, and he was having a hard time breathing. It caused him to spend Thanksgiving in bed, and then just before Christmas he caught a stomach bug.


He explained that he is at a higher risk for illnesses because his immune system is suppressed. It causes him to not only be more susceptible to getting sick, but also to have his body take much longer to fight off any sickness.


Knowing what he faces, Mr Krauss continues to persevere and stay as healthy as possible.


He is looking forward to his heart transplant surgery anniversary date in April 2018, which happens to also be National Donate Life Month to promote organ tissue donation.


Mr Krauss encourages everyone to show their support for the cause and learn more about becoming a donor at donatelife.net.


Click here to read the first installment of this two-part story.

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