By Elianna Novitch
Ten-year-old Cooper Foster has had the time of his life as a Kid Captain. From meeting his favorite players to being on the big screen at the Homecoming game, he’s enjoyed it all.
Cooper is this week’s Kid Captain for the Iowa/Wisconsin game. The program, for each football game, honors a pediatric patient at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“Doing the wave at the Iowa game was really, really fun,” Cooper said. “I got to be on the big screen, and it was all so cool.”
Cooper’s parents, Lisa and Roy Foster, said the Kid Captain experience has been amazing.
“It’s been awesome,” Lisa said. “This was the third year I nominated him, and he was definitely very happy when he found out he had been selected.”
Roy described Cooper as a granite-solid Hawkeye fan.
“My son is a die-hard, bleeds black and gold, Hawkeye fan, and to be a part of the Kid Captain program is one of the highlights of his entire life,” Roy said.
Cooper’s journey began at just 2 weeks old, when his parents realized something wasn’t right.
“He never really ate a whole lot at one feeding and didn’t have any bowel movements at all,” Lisa said.
The Fosters’ pediatrician said it can take time for newborns and that they can go seven to 10 days without any bowel movements. But after Cooper was unable to keep anything down and was losing weight quickly, they took him to the hospital.
Cooper was admitted to a Cedar Rapids hospital for 10 days, where they had him on a feeding tube and were giving him suppositories to try to help him go to the bathroom.
“It was late one night, and my mother was holding him when he projectile vomited what they said was feces because he had nowhere for it to go other than out his mouth,” Lisa said.
After this incident, Cooper’s pediatrician diagnosed him with Hirschsprung’s disease, a condition affecting the large intestine and making it difficult for the body to eliminate waste.
Cooper’s doctor said he wasn’t comfortable treating him in Cedar Rapids and sent the Fosters to the Children’s Hospital to be treated. After arriving there, doctors performed a biopsy on Cooper’s colon to see how much of it was working.
“They came back and told us that none of it worked,” Lisa said. “The ganglion cells in his colon weren’t allowing anything to be pushed through, so it got backed up.”
Cooper underwent surgery to help.
“For his first surgery, they removed all of his colon and a portion of his small intestine and then reconnected his small intestine so he was able to go to the bathroom,” Lisa said.
Cooper healed from his first surgery and was doing well until around the age of 4, when he started getting frequent stomach infections and his small intestine was enlarged. He then went through another surgery to address the issue.
Lisa said that since his last surgery in 2012, Cooper hasn’t struggled.
Roy said it’s been incredible to see Cooper’s growth.
“It’s been a complete blessing with how far he’s come and how positive and smart he is,” Roy said.
The Fosters are thankful for all the help and support the the Children’s Hospital has provided the family and Cooper.
“We would never go anywhere else,” Lisa said. “I couldn’t say anything more than he probably wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for them and everything that they’ve done.”