Psychiatrist Geri Doran Yanes packed a lot of living into her 54 years, despite the rare chronic illness that hounded her for 30 of them.
She died Friday at the Omaha home where she had lived for a year while receiving treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center, said her husband, Al Yanes of Rochester, Minn.
Dr. Yanes had paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria or PNH, an acquired disorder that leads to the premature death and impaired production of blood cells.
PNH has the dubious distinction of requiring the world’s most expensive drug, Al Yanes said. Forbes.com reported that the Alexion Pharmaceutical’s Soliris (eculizumab) costs close to $500,000 a year per patient.
Geri Yanes worked at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester until PNH forced her to retire in 1999.
“Geri loved being a medical doctor. She was very passionate about learning medicine and curing people,” her husband said.
She became an Oblate of the Order of St. Benedict in 2004.
“It’s a fraternity of lay folks who follow St. Benedict rules and the life of St. Benedict,” he said. “She was in the original class formed at the St. Benedict Center in Schuyler, Neb.
“She loved being an oblate of the order of St. Benedict. She spoke German. Voila! In the middle of Nebraska in the middle of nowhere, she finds these German monks. “She fell in love. It was a match made in heaven,” he said.
Geri Yanes, whose heritage is German, learned the language in college to prepare for a trip to Germany. She hoped to find relatives whose link had been lost for about 100 years.
She found Herman and Monica Ekeler whose home in Germany contained the same family photo as one in Yanes’ grandmother’s U.S. home, said Al Yanes.
Geri Yanes was born in Lincoln, graduated in 1976 from the now-closed Omaha Holy Name High School and received her undergraduate degree in 1980 from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
She graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1986. She completed her residency in psychiatry at Stanford University in 1996.
She was preceded in death by her father, Dwight Doran.
Besides her husband of 23 years, other survivors include her mother, Mary Anne Doran of Omaha.
A funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 14330 Eagle Run Drive.