Reply to "Cramping after a Total Colectomy"

Niko's Mom,

I am sorry to hear about your son's UC. But there is some hope for him in playing sports.

There used to be a football player named Rolf Benirschke who played in the National Football League for the San Diego Charges during the 1980's. He had UC and also had to have a Koch Pouch but even after all his surgeries, he played for 8 seasons. Listed is what I found on the web-site. Just google this player's name for more info. I hope this helps.


Rolf Benirshke Early career:

Benirschke attended La Jolla High School in San Diego where his father Kurt Benirschke, a German immigrant, was pathologist at UCSD medical school.

He attended college at the University of California at Davis, playing under coach Jim Sochor. He was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the 12th round of the 1977 NFL Draft, and was then traded to the San Diego Chargers for his rookie year in the National Football League.

In the off-season before the 1978 season, his second season, he developed chronic fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. He learned that he had ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Living with ulcerative colitis:

His health problems worsened in the 1979 season, when, on the team plane coming home from a road trip, Benirschke collapsed. He underwent two surgeries to remove his large intestine and he was in the intensive care unit for weeks. When released from the hospital, he weighed only 123 pounds and had to adjust to life with two ostomy appliances. His ileostomy was eventually reversed in a Koch pouch procedure.

On Sunday, November 18, 1979, Benirschke made his dramatic return to the Chargers in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he did not play, he was named honorary team captain for the game, which was a sellout. Louie Kelcher, a Chargers' defensive tackle, assisted him and held his hand out onto the field. The Chargers won the game 35-7.

From 1980 to 1982, Benirschke was also a broadcaster for the San Diego Sockers of the former North American Soccer League.


In 1980 Benirschke returned to kicking and played seven more seasons with the team before retiring in 1987 as the team's all-time leader in points scored (766).

He was named the NFL Man of the Year in 1983. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 1983 season. In 1997 he was the twentieth player inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.
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