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Boise State safety Jeremy Ioane: An All American hero

One man's courageous struggle with adversity is a lesson for us all

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

What kind of guy plays football with a catheter taped to the side of his leg? What makes up the heart of a player so devoted to football and his team that he has to have kidney dialysis between practices? What kind of young man whose kidney function has failed and needs a kidney transplant continues to take to the field every Saturday because he wants to play in his final games? A champion, that’s who. And such a champion is Boise State safety Jeremy Ioane.

Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe released a story Wednesday night about the plight of Jeremy Ioane and his need to receive a kidney transplant while holding down his spot on the Boise State football team because he wanted to finish out his season. Ioane’s condition was discovered during a random drug test by the Broncos staff in 2012. In the summer of that year he was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy following a kidney biopsy.

But that didn’t stop Ioane from keeping his situation to himself and giving his team all he had to give. Working closely with his doctor and his coaches, they kept the news quiet and let him play to the level he was able to. In 2012 he had tackles in every game except the New Mexico game that September. Last year he had tackles in all but one, the game at BYU. This year it has gotten much harder and he has missed the away games because he can’t drag his dialysis machine with him. And he is getting sicker. His kidney functions are down to just 1%. His last tackle was October 17 against Fresno State.

What is like for Ioane? Cripe noted that at night he connects the catheter in his abdomen to a dialysis machine that sits at his bedside. That machine filters his blood for the next 8-10 hours and does the work his failing kidneys can no longer do to keep his body from accumulating toxic wastes. That procedure allows him to attend classes, make team meetings and practices, and work out when he can.

"Without dialysis, he would not be alive," Dr. Michael Adcox, Ioane's nephrologist explains.

There has been a question all season about Boise State’s lack of depth in the defensive secondary even from this source. This explains most of that along with Ioane's reduced playing time as the season has progressed. But its not for the lack of trying on Ioane’s part, but because of the care and concern of his coaches. They know he would go out and play until he dropped on the field before admitting that he might not be up to his game.

Ioane is bound to be with his team Saturday, planning to play and quietly giving his team and his coaches 110 percent of all he has left. The camera’s will be there, perhaps zooming in on his #10 jersey.  And if you notice that he lacks a little color in his cheeks, or he seems a bit weak coming off the field, or he looks a little sick standing along the sidelines---that’s because he is.

A fundraising page has been set up for Ioane to help cover his looming medical expenses because he graduates in December and his Boise State insurance will lapse then. If you would like to kick in a few bucks to help out a fellow Mountain West member, a true champion who represents the best of all of us, please click here: