At 31 weeks gestation, Tim and Nelea Morlan were told that one of their twin boys, Lucas, had a Vein of Galen Malformation. The doctors told them the disease was very rare, and they would not know how severe his condition was until he was born. Just a few weeks later, Lucas and his twin brother were born at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Lucas went into heart failure within 24 hours of delivery and was flown to Iowa City where he had three surgeries in nine days. Prior to the first surgery, the doctors gave him a 5-15 percent chance of survival. He beat the odds, and is the Morlan's miracle.
"We were very scared. We were first time parents, with twins, in two different hospitals. Add to that, one of them had an extremely rare diagnosis with a low survival rate. I think it's safe to say it was the hardest thing we have ever dealt with," said Nelea. "Our extended families were very supportive. The initial diagnosis of Vein of Galen Malformation was hardest, because we did not know what to expect. Each diagnosis that came after that was hard, but he had already survived the worst and he just continued to fight."
At 2 weeks old, Lucas had a stroke on the right side of his brain, affecting his left hand and arm function. Lucas then developed hydrocephalus and at 9 months old a shunt was placed. At 11 months old, his shunt malfunctioned and caused a subdural hematoma. The hematoma was surgically removed and the shunt was revised. Lucas started having seizures at approximately 18 months old, and was diagnosed with complex epilepsy. Lucas has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy due to the trauma in his brain.
"Lucas cannot walk or sit independently, so he is in a wheelchair. He is also non-verbal, so he communicates in alternative ways with noises and expressions. He is working with communication devices at school and therapy," said Nelea. "Lucas attends public school and is integrated in a general education classroom for some of his day. He is able to spend time with typical age peers, and they can learn from each other."
Lucas loves music. He likes to listen to music, and he likes toys that play music. He also likes to have books read to him. He likes to take walks. He loves spending time with his brother, and likes to listen to other children talk and play.
"Despite all that Lucas has been through, he is a very happy boy, and you can't help but smile when he lights up. He is attempting to talk, though we don't know what he is trying to say, he is animated so we can't help but be proud when he tries so hard to tell us something," said Nelea. "Lucas is a strong little boy, and we love him so much."