Key football coach receives kidney transplant

September 13, 2012 | 11 a.m.

Scott Kirchoff leans on his faith through hardship

News | Jenny Hudalla

Key football coach receives kidney transplant

Formerly a Royals QB, Scott Kirchoff now coaches the next generation. | Courtesy of Bethel Sports Information

In February, Bethel quarterback coach Scott Kirchoff, 31, was reciting his wedding vows. In March, he was settling into married life with his brand new bride, Megan. And in July, he was beginning to prepare for the upcoming football season, just as he had done every summer for the last eight years.

One afternoon, no different from any other, Kirchoff began experiencing nausea and loss of appetite. Coupled with headaches and general lethargy, the usually healthy football coach went to the hospital to ask a few precautionary questions. After some testing, Kirchoff’s blood levels pointed to a grim answer: kidney failure. 

Because kidney failure is much more prevalent among the elderly, the diagnosis came as a shock to both Kirchoff and his wife. 

“You never expect this to happen, especially in your first few months of marriage,” he said. “But this has certainly strengthened us and drawn us more intimate, which is what hardship does.”

After receiving dialysis and having a catheter inserted near his heart for blood cleansing, Kirchoff was lucky enough to find a donor willing to give him a kidney: his own sister. Thanks to her generosity and selflessness, Kirchoff received a transplant on September 6. While his health should improve immediately after the procedure, the recovery could take up to six weeks. 

Kirchoff said that even though his wife, an assistant volleyball coach for the Royals, will tend to him during his hospital stay, she will not need to miss a significant portion of the season. Conversely, the football team will likely be without its quarterbacks coach until mid-October, posing certain challenges to both athletes and coaches alike. 

Starting quarterback Erik Peterson acknowledged that while proceeding without Kirchoff will be difficult, the team is already learning how to operate in his absence. The quarterbacks have taken it upon themselves to act as coaches for each other, critiquing their teammates’ performances while making sure to take advantage of the time they have left with Kirchoff before the procedure.

“He shows up with a great attitude every day, even if he’s worn out,” Peterson said. “That gets the team going, because if he can go through this unbelievably hard thing and never complain, then what do we have to complain about?”

Kirchoff has undoubtedly influenced both the organization and the players, a truth reflected in the overwhelming flow of support directed his way. Between colleagues inquiring after his health and athletes offering prayers, Kirchoff said there is nowhere he would rather be.

“I’ve always been passionate about Bethel and the community of people that are here,” he said. “People care about where you’re going and what your journey is. That’s huge.”

While Kirchoff’s own journey has been plagued by hardship of late, he portrays no hint of complaint or frustration. Instead, he displays the wisdom of a much older man, praising God in all situations. 

“When you’re grateful, your spirit is lifted, and you have more courage,” Kirchoff said. “The testing of your faith produces perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope.” 

Hope, it seems, is something he will never be without. Even in the midst of kidney failure, an issue fraught with complications, Kirchoff’s unwavering faith surpasses all fear.

“Going through a hard thing like this has allowed me to see that God is faithful in all things,” he said. “I know that God is with me all the time, and that in itself has given me peace."

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