MUSCATINE, Iowa — Michael Kutcher and Beckham Scadlock have more in common than just being Iowans.
They are living proof that heart transplants save lives.
On Saturday night, both transplant recipients shared their stories during the sixth annual Iowa Transplant Open, a golf and dinner event that raises funds and awareness for organ and tissue donation.
Beckham, of North Liberty, needed a little help from his parents to tell his story to the audience at the Geneva Golf and Country Club in Muscatine.
Beckham is only 4 years old.
Shortly after Beckham was born, doctors realized his heart wasn’t pumping blood properly.
“The doctors said, ‘I don’t think your son’s going to make it through the night,” said Nate Scadlock, Beckham’s dad.
“As you can see, it all turned out well,” said Nate as he shared the microphone with his lively, talkative son. Beckham’s mom, Kim, was also on hand.
There aren’t many hearts for infant transplants, said Nate, but Beckham received one within 10 days and became the first infant heart transplant patient in the history of the University of Iowa.
They wouldn’t let him go
Michael Kutcher, 34, was 13 and growing up in Cedar Rapids when his family, which includes his fraternal twin, actor Ashton Kutcher, discovered his heart was giving out in 1991.
At first, his parents thought he had the flu, but the symptoms didn’t subside so they took Michael to Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids where doctors discovered his heart was four times the size of a normal heart for someone his age.
Like Beckham, Michael was initially given a rather grim prognosis.
Michael’s doctor told him he needed a heart transplant, or he wouldn’t live more than a month.
Michael was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where doctors initially determined that his heart was swollen from a virus and he would recover.
But a few weeks later, he ended up in the cardiology unit and Michael’s parents were told they could slowly “let him go” or place him on a ventricle pump that would pump blood through his heart. The pump had never been used on a child before, and it would be effective for about only two days.
The Kutchers chose the pump, and within 24 hours, Michael received a donor heart. With the exception of a couple surgeries, or “tune-ups” as Kutcher describes them, the heart serves him well.
Kutcher pointed out that organ donations don’t just save the life of the recipient.
As a single parent to a 7-year-old son, Kutcher pointed out that his donor gave life to two people.
The Iowa Transplant Open attracts people from around the region who are recipients of a donated organ or who have been organ donors themselves.
Saturday night, Mike Fox of Bettendorf, who received a heart transplant in 1999, and John Burge of Cedar Rapids, the recipient of a donor kidney 2 1/2 years ago, were among the guests.
Burge, who has polycystic kidney disease, found his donor, Nick Etten, 24, on Facebook.
“He, (Etten,) said he wanted to do something meaningful and selfless,” said Nick’s wife, Katy Burge.
The Burges, along with Mike Fox and his wife , Laurie, and Dave Burdakin and his wife, Kim Burdakin, of Muscatine, are among the volunteers who organized and oversaw the 2012 Iowa Transplant Open.
Kim received a donor liver in 2000.
Last year, the Burdakins welcomed Taka Maeda of Japan into their home, as she awaited a kidney transplant at the University of Iowa.
“Taka is doing well,” said Kim, who noted that she often thinks of the young man, Steven Toth, whose liver she received after he died in a car crash at age 21.
“I’m here because of him,” she said.