Saturday's 'Kid Captain': Nathaniel and Lucas Anderson

Oct. 9, 2009

IOWA CITY, 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 Children’s Hospital.

Nathaniel, a seventh grader at Walcott Junior High School, 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 Children’s Hospital for evaluation. His parents, Leanne and John Anderson, were told that without the surgery he would be paralyzed from the waist down. He was two months old when doctors at UI Children’s Hospital performed the seven-hour surgery to remove the tumor.

Lucas, a fourth grader at Blue Grass School, 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 Children’s Hospital for a balloon procedure to open up his pulmonary valve and soon afterwards, another proce-dure to re-open his heart repair.

Both boys needed additional follow-up surgery at UI Children’s Hospital. When he was four, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon performed a tendon transfer on Nathaniel’s 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.

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The Anderson family, including older brother Isaac, 15, are at home with the “caring, informative, and sensitive staff” at UI Children’s Hospital. “We always felt like people, not numbers. Our children will continue to be carefully watched by the doctors at UI 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 Children’s Hospital in our lives. They have truly given our children the gift of healthy, happy, and productive lives.”