Hometown: 
Mount Vernon, Iowa

Jack Koehn of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, is a huge Hawkeye fan. He’s hardly alone in his love for all things Hawkeye, but for Jack there is a special meaning: he wouldn’t be in the game at all except for UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Julie Ruden, Jack’s mother, was referred to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital by her physician, Dr. Jerry Rozeboom, after prenatal tests showed the baby was hydrocephalic, which causes brain damage due to a build-up of fluid on the brain. After more research and discussion, the decision was made to have a shunt surgically placed right after his birth to drain the fluid and to relieve the pressure. Months before Jack’s birth, they met with the head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital where Jack would be cared for after birth and surgery and, “We immediately felt comforted knowing he would be in good hands.”

Right after he was born, Jack was also found to have a severe form of hemophilia, where the blood has trouble clotting. Surgery can be especially difficult under these circumstances, but when he was six days old Jack successfully underwent surgery to place a shunt. As he has grown, Jack has undergone five additional shunt replacements, had a port placed in order to give him his hemophilia medicine three days a week, and has endured numerous hospitalizations for infections.

“UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital is an amazing place! There are some of the most knowledge­able doctors in the world at this facility. The hemophilia center is outstanding–not only in caring for Jack, but helping him learn how to manage his condition.”

With all this, Jack is a “regular” in pediatric neurosurgery, endocrinology, the hemophilia clinic, and dentistry at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. But, rather than dreading doctor’s visits, he feels safe there. In fact, his mother adds, “Jack recently told me that he thinks the doctors and nurses are so good that he never wants to move very far away in case he needs them. He also says that he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

Life may have thrown him curve balls, but Jack is very much in the game of life. As his proud mother puts it, “Jack is smart, kind, patient, and has many friends.” The pressure on Jack’s brain before he was born caused some damage to the part of his brain that affects motor skills, and combined with his hemophilia, playing sports will never be an option. Instead, he’s channeling his energy and creativity into music, including playing drums in his school band. Jack may be sidelined, but he’s right there with Julie and his stepfather, Nick Ruden, cheering on his brother, Austin; stepsister, Ashley; and stepbrother, Cody; who are all active in sports. Jack has also developed a love of fishing, which he does regularly with his dad, Jim Koehn.

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