The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Kid Captain Chloe Dinkla spreads joy around UIHC

Dinkla was diagnosed with several spinal conditions after being adopted from China, but she doesn’t let anything slow her down.
Liz Martin/UIHC
Photo contributed by Taylor Vessel

On Saturday at Iowa football’s game against Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium, Kid Captain Chloe Dinkla will have her moment in the spotlight, so much so that the 11-year-old says she will be as famous as Taylor Swift.

Dinkla, who is from Winterset, Iowa, has faced many medical conditions in her spine, but through it all, has remained a bright personality and supportive character.

When Dinkla’s parents, Megan and Alex, applied to adopt her from China at 18 months old, they knew she’d have a clubbed left foot; however, when they traveled to bring their daughter home they realized there was more to the picture.

When Dinkla’s parents brought her home they took her to their pediatrician in Des Moines, Iowa. The doctor said Dinkla most likely had scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and that they should bring her back in about half a year for another check-up, but the Dinklas said they needed a second opinion.

The family ended up at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital where they met pediatric orthopedic surgeon Stuart Weinstein. He did an X-ray of Dinkla’s back and confirmed the earlier diagnosis. In addition, Dinkla was also diagnosed with spina bifida, which is an incomplete closure of the spine, a tethered spinal cord, and a bony mass that split her spinal cord.

After Weinstein examined Dinkla’s X-ray, UIHC doctors were able to remove the mass and repair her spinal cord almost immediately. 

“We’re super thankful,” Megan, Dinkla’s mother, said. “Dr. Weinstein had said we were within months of her potentially being completely paralyzed because the bone spur was rubbing into her spinal cord. She was super fortunate that the only function that she lost initially was just that left foot.”

Now, Dinkla is 11 years old and faces all her medical conditions with little to no worry.

“Chloe is an absolute rockstar,” Alex, Dinkla’s father, said. “It is unbelievable how brave this little girl is. She has not let any part of this slow her down.”

As Dinkla has gotten older she only needs to visit her doctors at the hospital every three months to have her spine “stretched”. She has MAGnetic Expansion Control TM (MAGEC) rods in her back. These rods respond to an external device that spins a magnet in the rods to make them longer. This allows Dinkla’s spine to grow normally as the rest of her body does. 

Once the pain gets to be too much, it’s up to Dinkla to tell Weinstein when she wants her permanent rod to be put in, one that will not grow as she does.

Living in Winterset, Dinkla goes to school and cheers on her siblings at their sports games. She loves singing and dancing and is most looking forward to meeting the cheer and dance teams on Saturday. 

Although she can’t participate in gymnastics or any movements that involve a lot of bending, Dinkla’s parents say one of her favorite activities is filming TikTok dances with her older brother, Brayden.

The song Dinkla chose to play during the wave will be “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

“Sometimes before I go into surgery, I sing that song in my head,” she said.

The entire family is very excited for the game and the opportunity to celebrate Dinkla and all the kids in the hospital. Dinkla said she hopes that all the kids in the hospital feel happy all the time and hopes the wave makes them smile a lot.

“Chloe has to take a backseat a lot just because of things that she can’t do, and her siblings are all in sports and very active and I think sometimes it’s probably hard for her to sit in the background and watch them do things,” Megan said. So this is really her moment to shine. It’s just really fun to see her excited about something and looking forward to something that’s truly for her.”

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About the Contributor
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.