Diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve) while still in the womb, Reid Shadle was thought to have little chance of even surviving until birth. He beat the odds, however, and checked into the world at a healthy 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Though he has faced serious health issues his whole life, Reid has a tenacious spirit, a positive outlook, and a love—among other things—of Hawkeye sports.
Reid’s parents, Craig and Vicki Shadle, were referred to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital when local doctors discovered his condition early in Vicki’s pregnancy. The day of the Shadles’ first appointment, Vicki recalls, happened to coincide with a presentation on fetal echocardiography by a visiting specialist, and UI physicians asked the specialist to consult with them to assist in the diagnosis. When it came time to deliver the baby, Vicki says, “There were more doctors than I thought could fit in one room.”
That level of interest and personal attention has continued throughout Reid’s treatment. Physicians, nurses, and other staff members have often spent hours with the family explaining options, addressing concerns, and helping them decide the best course of action. The members of Reid’s care team often have reached out personally to the Shadles to express support and make sure the family’s needs are met.
Reid’s health issues have led the family to spend countless hours at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. At just 13 days old, he underwent the first of six open-heart surgeries that restructured his heart and circulatory system to deliver more blood to his body. He’s had multiple procedures and has overcome respiratory infections, low blood oxygen levels, and other setbacks. Having a stent enlarged or IV port removed counts as a small triumph for Reid and his family.
In 2009, Reid was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, which his medical team is treating with immunosuppression therapy. It’s a serious medical issue on top of ongoing concerns about his heart. “He has two complex conditions that we’re trying to balance,” Vicki says. Despite the challenges, Reid is active and outgoing. The youngest of three children, he likes boating and the out-of-doors, shooting baskets in the driveway, and playing WiiTM and other video games. Reid is an avid Hawkeye football fan who attends at least one home game a year.
It’s little wonder Reid inspires those around him. “On a daily basis, Reid is a positive leader for everyone in his life while undergoing difficult medical treatments,” Vicki says.