HOUSTON (AP) — Former Rice senior offensive lineman Drew Carroll thought he had just broken his tailbone.
That was November 2012, and what Carroll believed to be a straightforward football injury turned out to be a kidney disease that's cut short his playing career.
Carroll has immunoglobulin A nephropathy, a condition that occurs when abnormal IgA proteins build up in the kidneys, causing scarring and deterioration. Instead of looking forward to one more season on the field, Carroll faces the prospect of dialysis treatments and an inevitable kidney transplant.
He told his teammates Sunday that he's been forced to quit his playing career.
"I just try to focus on the next day right now," Carroll said. "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."
Coach David Bailiff has made Carroll an assistant offensive line coach and Carroll will graduate in December with a degree in sports medicine.
"You hope a day like this never comes," Bailiff said. "But it's important to keep him close, let him feel the emotions of the game and keep those relationships with the team."
Dr. Wadi Suki, a transplant nephrologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, says the IgA nephropathy is the most common type of kidney disease and is detectable through a urine test. Suki said the disease can run in families, but also occur sporadically.
Carroll says he has no family history of the disease. Doctors have told him that his disease is advancing rapidly, even though he still feels healthy.
"The doctors haven't given me a timeline for starting dialysis or anything," Carroll said, "so I just kind of worry about each day and not think about it."
Carroll, from Abilene, Texas, earned Conference USA All-Freshman team honors in 2011. He started the first 10 games in 2012, but then felt pain in his back after a game in November. He assumed he'd broken his tailbone, but noticed blood in his urine and was admitted to the hospital. Tests revealed a cyst on one of his kidneys and doctors told him that he was already in acute renal failure.
A kidney biopsy in January 2013 confirmed the diagnosis of the nephropathy, but doctors still allowed him to play football if he felt up to it.