A 10-year-old Benton County boy will be the Iowa football team’s “Kid Captain” when the Hawkeyes host Penn State at Kinnick Stadium Saturday night.
Drew Steffen, who has a congenital heart defect, is the son of Elly and Brad Steffen of Atkins. Elly recalled the day in 2007 when her infant son was flown to University of Iowa Hospitals.
“It was terrifying to not know if we’d see our child alive again,” Elly said. When he was born, Drew’s heart was missing its right ventricle. Elly explained her son’s severe form of heart disease in a video produced for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“With his heart disease, his left ventricle is essentially doing all the work for his whole body,” Elly said. “So, that lowered his oxygen saturation levels in his body, which required his whole body to work harder. His lungs were working harder and his heart was working harder than they are supposed to work.” Drew has undergone three open-heart surgeries, with the most recent one nearly six years ago. Congenital heart disease is a lifelong ailment, so Drew will eventually need more surgeries and likely a heart transplant.
“But, for now, it’s defying all the odds…so, we’re very fortunate and blessed that he’s been able to be medically managed outside the hospital setting and without additional surgeries,” Elly said. The U-I Stead Family Children’s Hospital launched the Kid Captain program with the Hawkeye football team nine years ago.
The kickoff for Saturday’s game between Iowa and Penn State in Iowa City is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.