Davenport, Iowa

Nathaniel and Lucas Anderson share a love of sports, music, and family. These brothers also have a special bond because they were born with unrelated, serious disorders and both came through with flying colors, thanks to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Nathaniel was born with a rare spinal cord lipoma, a fatty tumor that was attached to the spine and had grown into the spinal cord. The family’s pediatrician referred them to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for evaluation. His parents, Leanne and John Anderson, were told that without the surgery Nathaniel would be paralyzed from the waist down. He was two months old when doctors at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital performed the seven-hour surgery to remove the tumor.

Lucas was born with coarctation of the aorta, a dangerous narrowing that causes high blood pressure and thickening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. Lucas’ condition was diagnosed before birth and he had his first surgery when he was only six days old. A few months later, Lucas returned to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for a balloon procedure to open up his pulmonary valve, and soon afterwards, another procedure to re-open his heart repair.

Both boys needed additional follow-up surgery at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. When Nathaniel was four, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon performed a tendon transfer on his left leg that allowed his leg to develop normally. In 2008, Luke’s leaking pulmonary valve caused the right chamber of his heart to stretch. He had open-heart surgery to replace the leaking valve in August 2008. The Anderson family, including older brother Isaac, is at home with the “caring, informative, and sensitive staff” at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. “We always felt like people, not numbers. Our children will continue to be carefully watched by the doctors at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, and we know that is the BEST place for them!” said Leanne.

Since the surgery, Lucas’ energy has increased and he’s doing well in school. Leanne says that not long after his heart surgery, he announced, “I can’t believe how good I feel.” He enjoys playing baseball, riding his bike, and playing the violin in orchestra.

Nathaniel has always loved sports. It’s not safe for him to play football, but he’s active in his baseball and basketball teams. He also enjoys playing saxophone in his school band. His mother says, “We are just thrilled to see him walking around and enjoying being a kid.”

Leanne adds, “We have been so blessed to have the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital in our lives. They have truly given our children the gift of healthy, happy, and productive lives.”

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