Anh Nguyen Reiss
Anh Reiss, 48, remained a doctor in her final moments. She self-evaluated her heart rate as she lied in a hospital bed at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she died early Friday, February 26, after a nearly seven-year long fight with a blood cancer.
It's fitting that the mother of two would do so. She was a tireless worker in every facet of her life. She liked to roll up her sleeves and show the muscles she'd built by weightlifting. An OB/GYN who helped bring thousands of children into the world, she'd describe her deliveries down to the number of ounces a baby weighed.
Her husband, Joshua Reiss, and children, Alexandra, 24, and Aaron, 20, will remember her as a caring wife and mother who reveled as much in her own happiness — she loved learning new cooking techniques from the internet and reading books about anthropology and history — as she did the happiness of those around her.
Anh was born in South Vietnam. When she was a young girl growing up devoutly Catholic, her parents sent her to temporarily live with a group of nuns to see if she could one day become one. The nuns soon sent her home for being too loud.
Anh came to the United States with her family in 1975, as refugees at the end of the Vietnam War. While in a refugee neighborhood outside of New Orleans, she learned English in part by watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and she sold food to neighbors to help support her family. By the time she was a teenager, she often took care of her siblings while her parents were at work. She also excelled in the classroom. She was salutatorian of North Shore High School.
In 1989, she graduated with a degree in economics from Rice University, where she met Josh. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Anh earned an M.D. degree cum laude from the State University of New York at Brooklyn and served her medical residency at New York University. After residency, Anh established her medical practice at Memorial Hermann Hospital-Southwest.
When Anh learned in 2009 that she had myleodysplastic syndrome, a pre-leukemic condition that can only be cured with a bone marrow transplant, she became a public face for the issue. Vietnamese people are some of the least-represented on the national registry. With a team tireless volunteers, Anh and her family helped more than double the number of registered Vietnamese bone marrow donors. Multiple patients found matches in people who Anh and her team registered.
Anh told her children she worked as hard as she did so that they could have more opportunities than she did growing up. Anh, Josh, Alexandra and Aaron traveled the world. They explored Vietnam and Cambodia, Italy and Istanbul. Her most recent trip was to Greece, as place she'd wanted to go to for years.
In addition to her husband and children, Anh is survived by both of her parents, Kinh and Son Nguyen; siblings Phuong, Hiep, Duong, John and Peter; and a near countless number of nieces, nephews, friends and patients whose lives she touched.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at the Bradshaw-Carter Home, 1734 West Alabama Street in Houston. The funeral service will be held at half past nine o'clock in the morning Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 3617 Milam Street in Houston.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, Anh's family asks people to donate to the Be The Match Foundation