Kid Captain Gavin Miller hopes Iowa football upsets No. 2 Ohio State

Iowa football’s Week 8 Kid Captain is hoping the Hawkeyes defeat the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.



Kid Captain Gavin Miller poses for a photo.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

Gavin Miller, a 13-year-old from Ogden, Iowa, has undergone around a dozen surgeries. He was born two months premature with Eagle Barrett syndrome.

Eagle Barrett Syndrome is a rare condition that caused Gavin to go into kidney failure immediately after birth. Other symptoms of Eagle Barrett Syndrome include neurological disorders, enlarged bladder, and lack of abdominal muscles.

Shortly after his first birthday, Gavin underwent a kidney transplant surgery at Stead Family Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa’s Hospitals and Clinics. Gavin needed to weigh at least 22 pounds before he could undergo any surgeries.

When he was finally up to the necessary weight, Gavin’s grandmother, Dorine Bloomberg, donated one of her kidneys to him. Now, 13 years later, Gavin got the news of being selected as a Kid Captain when he needed it the most.

“It’s a really cool experience, especially when we went to that kid’s day where we got to tour the locker room,” Gavin said about being a Kid Captain. “We went on the field and met the players and met [Iowa football head coach] Kirk Ferentz. I got a football signed and a lot of gifts and stuff.”

In the last year, Gavin and his family learned the kidney he received from his grandmother has only 45 percent functionality.

As Gavin nears another kidney transplant surgery, the Miller family’s trips to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics have become more frequent. Labs and tests are conducted more often, but Gavin remains strong and determined.

Lyndsay Harshman, Gavin’s primary nephrologist and a UI assistant professor of pediatrics, said Gavin is a positive, joyful, and compassionate young man. Harshman has been on Gavin’s care team for the past five years. She has enjoyed getting to know Gavin and his family.

“I really believe that Gavin is a testament to the power of kidney donation, in particular, living kidney donation,” Harshman said.

Harshman added that Gavin’s family does a great job of allowing him to have a normal life on a day-to-day basis.

“His family is just unbelievable,” she said. “I think we are so lucky to have so many amazing kidney families.”

Gavin enjoys going to UIHC for treatments every three to six months for treatments.

“I feel really comfortable there,” Gavin said. “My doctors are just really great, and care about me, and want me to stay healthy, and try to keep this kidney as long as possible.”

Gavin likes to play golf in his free time. He is on the Ogden Middle School boys’ basketball team, and he plays percussion in the 8th grade band.

Gavin’s family includes his twin brother, Brayden Miller, his mother, Jennifer Miller, his father, Jason Miller, and their dog Tessa — a labradoodle Gavin received through Make-A-Wish.

“She’s been a great source of therapy for him and also the whole family,” Jennifer said about Tessa. “She means a lot to us.”

This season, the Millers attended the Hawkeyes’ 27-0 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack on Sept. 17. UIHC invited all away game Kid Captains to the matchup.

“Being a part of The Wave, as well, is a special thing,” Jason said. “Especially with Gavin and all his time that he spent there. And we have, as a family, I guess for his medical needs and stuff.”

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While Gavin may not remember all the surgeries he went through as a baby and young child, his parents are thankful for the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

When Gavin was first diagnosed, Jennifer said she was in shock. She added there was a lot to absorb as the days went on and she began to learn more about Gavin’s condition.

“I mean, since day one, we’ve been so fortunate,” Jennifer said. “They care about us as, you know, a family, not just as Gavin’s patient. They make sure that we understand what’s happening, that we feel educated. And now, not just Jason and I, but Gavin. We’re trying to teach him to be independent and what’s to come in his future when he’s an adult.

“Just very caring people, you know. Some of them we probably even call our friends just because we know they’re just a phone call away with any questions or concerns that we have.”

Gavin, who is from a town of less than 2,000, is embracing the spotlight being a Kid Captain has put on him. And knowing his name will be etched into the history books excites Gavin.

“It’s just really cool to think about how I’m kinda famous,” Gavin said. “Everyone knows now I’m out there, for good.”