Family Has Much to be Thankful for

By: Steve Nicoles, Reporter


By Steve Nicoles

IOWA CITY - Most of us have one reason or another to be thankful this holiday. But for one family this thanksgiving will be a special reunion. Zach Steger, 15, expects to be out of the hospital and on his way home to Kansas this week. It means he will see his mom for the first time in more than two months.

Doctors at University Hospitals perform a biopsy on Zach Steger. They say it is the best way to check for rejection. The 15-year-old received a heart transplant about two months ago. Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Erik Edens said, “He was very sick. He was in danger of dying."

Zach received the transplant within 72 hours. His doctor said he was lucky to find a match so fast. For the last two months he has lived with his grandmother near Dyersville. She works full-time and is responsible for Zach getting his medication. Carol Vorwald said, “It's much easier taking care of him now because he can understand what's going on."

Zach knows the hospital well. He was here 13 years ago for his first heart transplant. Back then his entire family lived in Iowa. Now his mom is in Kansas. Wendy Steger has not been to the hospital since this latest transplant. As for Zach’s dad, he is even farther away. Steve Steger is serving with the U.S. army in Afghanistan. He got a three week break to be with Zach for the transplant.

Wendy will come to Iowa this week. Steve will not be home for thanksgiving. But considering what the Steger family has gone through the last couple months, knowing everyone is alive and well is all anyone could have wanted. And Zach will not be back in the hospital anytime soon.

The Steger's will have thanksgiving in Iowa. It is a family tradition. But, barring any unforeseen complications Zach and his mom will return to Kansas together this weekend.

Email Steve Nicoles at

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