Aug 20, 2018

Good Things Come in Threes

How medical devices and the letters B.O.K. changed the lives of the Anderson family.

It’s hard to imagine how the Medtronic Mission — to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life  — could be more personal to someone than it is to Mitch Anderson.

“The Mission is why I chose to work at Medtronic,” said Anderson, a senior engineering manager at the Medtronic Energy and Component Center (MECC) in Brooklyn Center, Minn. “But it really focused for me when I had a family member directly impacted. It helped me connect easier to the Mission. Not that it wasn't easy before, it just made it effortless after.”

Today, his triplets —  two sons and a daughter — are approaching five years old. He believes at least one of them may not have survived without the help of medical technology in general, and a number of Medtronic devices in particular.

“We have three children today because of medical device technology. Bottom line,” he said.

Ultrasounds during pregnancy showed the smallest of the triplets would be physically behind the other two. They would be born early and there would likely be complications.

“The doctors warned us on many different fronts, specifically with Kaylee,” Anderson said.

In the weeks leading up to the births, Mitch and his wife Kristen worked on names. They picked Kaylee for the girl, continuing a family tradition of girl names beginning with “K”. Owen was named after one of Mitch’s favorite hockey players. But the third name was the toughest.

“I just came up with Brody off one of the name lists,” Mitch said. “And then the B.O.K. kind of stuck in my head and came out.”

“Brody, Owen and Kaylee,” Kristen said. “Be okay. And I just started bawling. I’m like, ‘okay, it's in,’” she laughed.

The triplets were born at 29 weeks — and while the boys did relatively well — Kaylee struggled to “be okay.” She needed oxygen and feeding tubes. Her heart stopped six different times during seven anxious months in the hospital, until she finally turned the corner and could go home.

On the maze of machinery helping keep her daughter alive, Kristen eventually noticed a familiar name.

“I looked at the package and it was like ‘oh my gosh,’” Kristen said. “It was just a light bulb moment for me. ‘This is where you work.’”

Two of Kaylee’s most important life support devices — the tracheostomy tube and ventilator — are made by the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group (MITG) at Medtronic. Mitch has worked for the company for eight years and his father is a Medtronic employee too.

I feel really proud to be at Medtronic, to be able to contribute to the welfare of other people,” he said. “When I’m maybe having a more challenging day, my personal experience helps remind me that we’re doing something for a reason and affecting a lot of other people.”

The triplets will turn five in November. Kaylee is the daydreamer. Owen is the comedian. And Brody looks out for the other two. All three are strong, healthy and happy. They share a bond and a story that will last a lifetime. “Even nowadays we just always tell the kids everything will be okay,” Kristen said. “Brody, Owen, Kaylee. B.O.K.”