This week’s Kid Captain loves exploring wildlife

Kid Captain Ean Gorsh is finally enjoying the outdoors this past summer after being seizure-free for a year and half.


Katina Zentz

Offensive lineman Ross Reynolds (left) signs a football for Kid Captain Ean Gorsh (right) during Iowa Football Kid’s Day at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 11, 2018. The 2018 Kid Captains met the Iowa football team and participated in a behind-the-scenes tour of Kinnick Stadium. Each child’s story will be featured throughout the 2018 Iowa football season.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

This summer, 9-year-old Ean Gorsh saw his first moose in person.

His family had repeatedly postponed a trip to Alaska as Ean popped in and out of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital for surgery and treatment for four years.

In June, though, he went whale-watching and “wowed” at a mother moose and her two babies. This week, he’s ecstatic to be the Hawkeye’s Kid Captain for the football team’s away game vs. Minnesota.

The trip symbolized a big step in recovery for Ean, who was grateful this summer to transition from operating rooms to camping and playing basketball.

“Our life was on pause for a while,” said Teri Gorsh, Ean’s mother. The family live in North English, Iowa.

Four years ago, Ean’s future was more uncertain. One day in 2014, his preschool sent him home after he vomited. He fell asleep in front of the TV and was unresponsive in what physicians later said was a seizure.

At the time, doctors told Ean’s parents, Teri and Zach Gorsh, not to worry. He would probably grow out of his seizures or medication would offer a solution.

Ean’s seizures began lasting up to 15 minutes, though. He began taking complicated combinations of medication that left him sidelined by extra symptoms.

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Physicians suggested an intracranial EEG, where surgeons would remove the right side of Ean’s skull and put about 200 electrodes in his brain to locate where the seizures originated.

After the procedure, Ean’s surgeons decided to disconnect a portion of the right side of his brain to help minimize seizures and keep his motor skills.

But 17 days after his surgery, Ean began having daytime seizures.

Then, the couple and doctors considered a hemispherotomy, the complete removal or disconnection of one side of the brain. Teri Gorsh said they had begun discussing the procedure as an option five months earlier. The most difficult part was not knowing the outcome, she said.

“In our minds, it was just unknown,” she said. “Is he going to wake up? I didn’t fully understand, but when you’re removing one-half of your kid’s brain, you’re just, you don’t know what to expect.”

Without the surgery, Ean was at risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

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The day before, students and teachers at Ean’s elementary school lined the walls and cheered as Ean did a lap, high-fiving his friends, teachers, and classmates.

“It was one of the most touching things I’ve been a part of in my 20 years in education,” said Amy Andreassen, Ean’s principal at English Valleys Elementary.

Ean underwent the 10-hour surgery Jan. 11, 2017.

He hasn’t had a seizure since.

“We’re super thankful for the neurosurgeons and the hospital in general,” Teri Gorsh said. “There were times when I was talking to his neurosurgeon and was like, ‘Is he going to be OK?’ And he said, ‘You can never give up.’ That sticks with me.”

When he first awoke from the surgery, Ean was paralyzed on his left side.

Now, it’s been several months since his last visit. In the months after his surgery, he began to walk, skip, and even joined a basketball team. His family hopes to get a tandem kayak for him.

Even more amazing, his mother said, Ean hasn’t missed a single day of school this year.

“We didn’t go to the university all summer long, which was just truly amazing,” Teri Gorsh said. “Like wow, he’s healthy. I don’t have to call. I haven’t talked to his neurosurgeon since May.”