Kimberlee Loutzenhiser was a mom, wife, daughter, and friend to many. She and her husband Dan had been together for about 10 years. After living in Arizona for a short time she caught a rare fungal infection called Valley Fever. However, it wasn’t until 3 years later that she would show symptoms. Saturday, Kim died after the infection worsened. Their baby, Jack Michael, died just a few days before.
She was a bubbly, most energetic, fun loving passionate mom, wife, friend, daughter, and we were just so fortunate to be part of her life," Dan told WOWT 6 News. "She was my best friend," he continued.
At first, doctors and the family thought she had pneumonia. It wasn't until her condition worsened that they realized it was something much different.
Valley Fever is a well known fungus in Phoenix, but here the family told WOWT 6 News it is not as common. Doctors didn’t realize what they were battling in time to treat it.
"She had a kind of dry cough and with her being pregnant thought it was the pregnancy. They took an X-ray and her lungs were just white. Instantly they said we needed to head to the ER and get things checked out," Dan said. "It's a regional fungus in Phoenix. You see it a lot down there. But up here, it's something people don't know how to treat, or even notice it."
For two weeks Kimberlee was in the hospital fighting the fungus. On March 9th, their baby boy, Jack Michael, was delivered at just 23 weeks. He died after delivery. Kimberlee died on March 14th.
The deaths came as a shock to the family. Out of nowhere, Dan is now left raising his 2 and 4-year-old daughters alone.
“When I got home I sat them both down and told them, mommy’s gone to heaven and that’s the toughest thing I ever had to say,” Dan told WOWT 6 News. "She left a legacy with her two little girls. I can see her in them each and every day."
Dan told WOWT 6 News that raising the girls without their mother will be tough. "With Olivia and Hannah I just hope that I am able to raise them the way that Kim wanted me to raise them. She had such a heart for them."
He said he never expected life to take such a turn. "It was all according to the plan we laid out, the plan for our life, plan for this baby this beautiful baby boy, and this comes along and you're like 'What's Gods plan in all this and you really don't know. But, I'm a man of faith and know everything happens for a reason." He continued, "When we get to heaven I'm gonna ask him 'What did you have in mind with this?' cause I don’t know right now. I just have to trust God will take care of me and my girls."
Dan said Kim was very involved with the Lifegate School. Dan said he hopes to eventually start a memorial or scholarship for the school in her name.
Kim was born in Omaha, graduated from Papillion-La Vista High School, and went to college at UNL. She got a degree in dental hygiene from the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry.
The link to donate is to the right.
A visitation is scheduled for Thursday, March 19th from 5:30pm-8pm at LifeGate Church, 15555 W. Dodge Rd, Omaha, NE.
The memorial service will take place Friday, March 20th at 11am at LifeGate Church.