15 Images

Heartache and Hope

Nicole Draper holds 4-month-old Nate as his twin, Nick, sleeps at Mattel Children’s Hospital at the UCLA Medical Center. Both babies suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy and will need heart transplants to live. Shortly, Nicole must start the trek home with Nate to care for her other children. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Nick Draper, left, and his brother Nate at UCLA Medical Center. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Nicole Draper and Nate head to UCLA Medical Center, where Nicole will nurse Nick and drop off the breast milk she has pumped for him. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
While dealing with one of the many phone calls she gets throughout the day, Nicole Draper heads to her car carrying Nate and her tote with her list of things to do. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Caitlin, left, and Emma wrestle with each other as Nicole and Nate wait for doctors to check Nate’s condition at the heart clinic. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Nicole Drapers strokes Nate as he gets an echocardiogram. It is good news. His heart is strong enough to make the trip to Phoenix for Thanksgiving. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
IN NEED: NicK Draper, left, and his brother Nate have hearts that barely pump, a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. They are both awaiting transplant surgery at UCLA Medical Center. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Nick touches his mother’s hand. Tender moments such as this with both babies are rare for the family. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Caitlin swoops to her father’s side after he arrives at the Ronald McDonald House after work. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
After arriving home from work, Mike Draper tenderly talks with Nate. On this night, the family plans to head out to dinner. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Nicole prepares Nate’s medicine as her sister Amy helps the Draper children make handprint presents for the grandparents. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Emma Draper, left, prays with her mother at the Ronald McDonald House as her aunt and siblings settle in for the night. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Emma, Brendan, and Caitlin Draper sleep on the way home after visiting their baby brother Nick. The three pray every day for their brothers to get new hearts. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
The doctor has determined that Nate must be readmitted to the hospital. Nicole was up with him most of the previous night. She waits in the hospital lobby for hours for a bed to open up. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
Approaching midnight, Nicole Draper comforts Nate after a doctor has twice tried to start an IV. (Anne Cusack / LAT)