Kid Captain Cien Currie has “wonderful” response to Keto diet, dietitian says

This week’s Kid Captain Cien Currie suffers from agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, a rare birth defect where the middle part of the brain never forms. However, his positive attitude is infectious, and he’s ready to cheer on the Hawkeyes.


Ryan Adams

Kid Captain Cien Currie and his father pose for a picture Hawkeye Football Head Coach Kirk Ferentz at Kids Day at Kinnick on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Kids Day at Kinnick is an annual event for families to experience Iowa’s football stadium, while watching preseason practice and honoring this year’s Kid Captains.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Editor

As a five-month-old, Cien Currie began suffering from seizures so terrible he once lost the ability to breathe entirely. 

After several visits to a Des Moines hospital with no diagnosis, Cien was helicoptered to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, where they discovered he had a rare birth defect where the middle part of the brain never fully forms.

Known as agenesis of the corpus callosum, Cien still fights his illness. However, fresh off the high of his seventh birthday, Cien will now be representing the Hawkeyes as Kid Captain at Saturday’s football game against Iowa State University.

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“We’ve always been Hawkeye fans,” Cien’s mother Kayle Currie said of their family, who lives in Winterset, Iowa. “We just feel super thankful for the University of Iowa. They’re wonderful people, every single one of them.”

Although Cien has only ever known a life of ACC, Kayle Currie said Cien has always been very happy at the hospital, even for surgeries or extended stays.

“He doesn’t know any different,” she said. “I think the one thing he likes the most is when he got back surgery. He just got to watch all of his favorite movies and lay there and hang out and get some mom and dad cuddles.”

In addition to his affinity for football, Kayle Currie said Cien “loves, loves, loves” music. One of his all-time favorite things to do is bop his head to the beat when the music starts playing, she said.

Despite the stress of Cien’s medical issues, Kayle Currie said the tradition of Kid Captain makes the family feel very blessed and humbled. When the crowd gets excited, so does Cien, she added.

“Cien always has a smile on his face,” UI Hospital & Clinics dietitian Stephanie Borst said.

After steroids proved ineffective against the seizures, Cien began eating a ketogenic diet through a G-tube and is catching up on his learning skills, she said. The family hopes the Keto diet will continue to bear fruit for Cien’s health.

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“Variety is restricted on the diet, due to its low carb nature, but he was always willing to go with the flow in terms of the food he could have,” Borst said. 

Borst said a Keto diet can control seizures and substitutes fat for a patient’s main energy source instead of carbohydrates. 

“[Cien’s] history is a good representation of what life can look like on the diet … and he has had the best possible outcome on the diet: seizure freedom,” Borst said.

Cien’s father Jacob Currie said his son takes full advantage of that freedom. Full of spunk, Cien enjoys just riding with his family in the car and actually throws a fit when they turn into their driveway, he said.

However, his dad said that Cien struggles to walk. Although his back surgery has allowed him to bear more weight and take more steps, he struggles to see, because the ACC impairs his vision.

“Daily routine is a struggle,” Jacob Currie said. “But somehow he goes about it –– not afraid,  ready to go on.”

Jacob Currie said Cien always throws his hands up in the air, shouts, and claps when the Hawks score a touchdown. To his father, it’s one of the coolest things in the world to watch.

“Him being such a happy kid is just a testament of how he goes at life and deals with his battles,” he said. “It makes me feel very proud in how he can enjoy life to the fullest. He truly sets an example to accomplish that.”