Kid Captain Carver Meiners gives back to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Carver was diagnosed with transposition of the great arteries while he was in his mother’s womb.


Jerod Ringwald

Kid Captain Carver Meiners waits for an autograph from Iowa defensive back Riley Moss during Iowa football’s Kids’ Day at Kinnick in Iowa City on Aug. 13.

Sabine Martin, Managing Editor

Polk City, Iowa, 8-year-old Carver Meiners was speechless when he walked onto Duke Slater Field for the first-time during Kids’ Day at Kinnick Stadium in August.

“I felt super excited, and I ran all over the place,” Carver said of the moment he learned he’d be the Kid Captain for Saturday’s Iowa-Purdue game.

Carver was diagnosed with transposition of the great arteries while he was in his mother’s womb. His two main arteries were reversed.

“I had a 20-week ultrasound, and they noticed something was wrong with Carver’s heart during my ultrasound,” said Carver’s mother Allison Meiners. “So, they referred us on to go to a different hospital with pediatric cardiology. So, we chose to go to Iowa City.”

Allison, who nominated Carver for Kid Captaincy, said there are a lot of deserving kids who are nominated for Kid Captain.

“We followed it every year and know a couple of people who have done it as well,” she said. “Carver this last year has really been into football, so it’s a good age to do that. So, I nominated him.”

Carver said he wants to be an NFL football player when he grows up — the Minnesota Vikings is his favorite team. His favorite subject in school is math.

“I play baseball, I used to play soccer,” Carver said. “I am going to play basketball this year.”

Surgery and recovery

Carver’s dad, Matthew Meiners, said his family had multiple options for Carver’s medical care in Philadelphia, Michigan, and Iowa. He pointed out how comfortable his family felt choosing the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital after a meeting with Stead’s medical professionals.

“They are that confident in their own skills, so we knew we found the right place,” he said.

Allison said she and her husband went to the hospital regularly until Carver was born on June 26, 2014.

“Before we had him, we had a big meeting where all of his care providers came together and talked about how they would care for him,” she said. “I always joked that there were more people in that room to care for him than my graduating class.”

Allison added she graduated with 18 people.

When Carver was a couple of days old, he had exploratory surgery. Allison said Carver had open heart surgery to alter blood flow in his body at six days old.

“He was in the hospital for 30 days total,” Allison said. “The recovery process definitely wasn’t a sprint — it was a marathon and really a rollercoaster with some good days and bad days.”

Watching from home

While he won’t be on the field at Saturday’s game, Allison said Carver visited Kinnick during the Iowa-Nevada game on Sept. 17. All away game Kid Captains were invited to the contest.

Carver said he got an autograph from one of his favorite players, linebacker Jack Campbell.

Instead of going to West Lafayette for the Iowa-Purdue game, Carver’s family will watch from home with family and friends. Carver is also hosting a toy drive to collect toys for kids in the hospital through Nov. 5.

“We are asking people to bring toys to give to the children’s hospital at the watch party,” Allison said. “We have already had a lot of toys sent to him — probably close to 150 toys that we’ve collected.”

She added that Carver and his family will donate the toys to the hospital after the game.

Ongoing medical care

Carver visits pediatric cardiologists at Stead to monitor his heart every year.

“They take a good look at his heart each year, and he’s doing really good,” she said.

After all of Carver’s time at Stead Family Hospital, Allison said she and her family grew closer together.

“Right at the beginning, you don’t know how you’re going to get through it, but you’re going to come out of your experience,” she said.