9-year-old Kid Captain fights respiratory disorder

This week’s Kid Captain, Noah Hodgins, is 9 years old and has combated a rare disorder that blocked his nasal airway.


Katina Zentz

Kid Captain Noah Hodgins stands in front of his banner during Iowa Football Kids Day at Kinnick on Aug. 11.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

While most kids ask their parents to make their favorite foods, 9-year-old Noah Hodgins loves to satisfy his taste buds with his own creations. The Cedar Rapids native aspires to become a chef.

 Noah will be this week’s Kid Captain for the Hawkeyes’ game at Penn State.

 “He loves to cook but does not like candy,” Isaac Hodgins, Noah’s father, said. “[Noah] will be going trick-or-treating, because he wants to be with his friends. But he will be giving [the candy] to mom and dad and his brothers and sisters.” 

Noah is a big Hawkeyes fan, Isaac said. His first football game was Iowa’s Homecoming game last week, and he really enjoyed it.

Noah’s parents were scared when he was born, because he was breathing noisily. Initially, the medical staff at the local hospital thought he had breathed in fluid when he was born and that caused his breathing difficulty, said Jackie Hodgins, Noah’s mother. 

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The physicians did a CT scan and did not see anything concerning, so they eventually sent Noah home.

 “Unfortunately, he got worse and worse, and we scheduled an appointment with our local doctor,” Jackie Hodgins said. “When he was in his car seat as we prepared to go, he started experiencing respiratory distress.”

 Noah was only 12 days old at the time.

 Jackie Hodgins said she immediately performed resuscitation breathing with him. An ambulance took Noah to the hospital, where they were referred to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

 “Noah came to the hospital to get consulted when he was experiencing [respiratory] trouble,” said Deborah Kacmarynski, a UI clinical associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology. “It was just after he was born.”

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 Kacmarynski said she has worked with Noah for the past nine years.

“They put him on a ventilator, and when they saw the CT scan that was done at our local hospital, they told us Noah was born with CNPAS,” Jackie Hodgins said.

 Congenital nasal pyriform aperture stenosis is a rare birth defect that causes an overgrowth in the upper jaw bone, causing the front opening of the nose to narrow. 

Jackie Hodgins said because Noah’s nasal openings were obstructed by the growth, he was having issues breathing. In addition, Noah’s corpus callosum is thin, which causes him to experience challenges with fine motor skills.

 “As he has gotten older, he has been getting therapy to help with it,” Jackie Hodgins said.

 When he was three weeks old, Noah underwent his first surgery; doctors drilled the bones obstructing Noah’s nasal airway, she said.  When he was six months old, he had a second procedure.

 “We had to reduce the gap for Noah to breathe,” Kacmarynski said. “We had to be very careful because he was a baby, and we did not want to harm the growth of his teeth.” 

Noah still has one surgery to go, Kacmarynski said. However, it has been easier for him to breathe since the gap was reduced. 

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“The whole experience at the Stead Family Hospital has been amazing,” Isaac Hodgins said. “It has been a blessing for us, because the doctors [helped Noah overcome his] obstacles.”

 He said the Children’s Hospital physicians and nurses were very caring and friendly with Noah. He said the family is grateful for the care Noah received. 

“Noah is doing very well now; he is an amazing [boy],” Kacmarynski said. “He is healthy and happy with a loving family.”