Rice senior offensive lineman Drew Carroll ended his football career last Sunday in emotional fashion.
Carroll was diagnosed immunoglobulin A nephropathy, a condition that occurs when abnormal IgA proteins build up in the kidneys in 2012. He tried to play through the discomfort, but in late May, the disease got worse and he was forced to retire.
"You hope a day like this never comes," coach David Bailiff told the Associated Press. "But it's important to keep him close, let him feel the emotions of the game and keep those relationships with the team."
Bailiff made Carroll as assistant offensive line coach while he finishes his degree. Carroll will graduate with a degree in sports medicine in December.
Carroll’s diagnosis came in November 2012 when he felt pain in his back after a game in November. He thought it was a broken tailbone, but when he saw blood in his urine, he was admitted to the hospital. Doctors found a cyst on one of his kidneys and told him he was in acute renal failure, which is an abrupt loss of kidney function. Carroll’s kidneys were struggling to filter waste from his blood.
In January 2013, a biopsy showed Carroll he had nephropathy, but doctors still allowed him to play football because they didn’t know whether it would worsen his condition.
Last season, Carroll started five games at right tackle, including the Conference USA championship game and the Liberty Bowl.
But during offseason conditioning in May, Carroll noticed some discoloration on his left thigh. By the time he got to trainers, he was shivering uncontrollably and there was more blood in his urine. Carroll was taken back to the emergency room. He stayed a week at Houston Methodist Hospital, lost 20 pounds and was also diagnosed with pericarditis, a swelling of the membrane surrounding the heart. He was given official word that his time on the football field needed to come to an end.
Carroll’s kidneys are working at a little more than 50 percent right now and he knows the prospect of dialysis and a kidney transplant are in his future. While dialysis, which removes waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body, will help with Carroll’s condition, there is no known cure for his disease except for a kidney transplant.
But he’s trying not to think about that and for now, he’s focusing on remaining a part of the Rice program.
"I just try to focus on the next day right now," Carroll told the Associated Press. "I don't think too much down the road about a transplant or dialysis. I kind of worry about each day. I don't think focusing on all of that will help me that much.
"I can't imagine a better place to be to face something like this. I still feel like I'm a part of this team and that'll help me with whatever's down the road."
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