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Irish assistant well after kidney transplant

– Notre Dame safeties coach Bob Elliott doesn’t look like someone who had a major medical procedure.

But he also didn’t look like someone who needed one for just less than a year.

On Feb. 6, Elliott had a kidney transplant. His sister, Betsy Stough, was the donor. That procedure ended 11 months of twice-a-day self-dialysis Elliott administered every day since March of 2012.

“I don’t have to do dialysis now, so that’s wonderful,” Elliott said April 8 after the Irish’s ninth session of spring practice. “It’s just a matter of endurance now for me. But things are going really well.”

“I didn’t feel bad doing dialysis. It was just a pain in the butt. I didn’t feel bad last year at all. Endurance and those kinds of things are a factor when you are doing dialysis. But it wasn’t a huge deal other than the inconvenience.”

Elliott dealt with kidney failure throughout his first season as an Irish assistant coach. And his story didn’t go public until he told it to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel in the days leading up to Notre Dame’s game against Alabama in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7.

“I think last season, half the people didn’t know what was going on,” Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston said. “And that’s exactly the way he wanted it.”

Elliott said he had about 10 volunteers, and Stough was the first match but not the only one.

“We had my brother warming up in the bullpen, in case something happened,” said Elliott, who also said there were three or four matches.

Elliott said his sister has also recovered well.

“They always say it’s tougher on the donor than it is on the recipient in the short term. In the long term is the issue,” Elliott said. “But she’s doing great,”

As for Elliott, he said the only side effects from the procedure are that he has to keep himself hydrated – “I have a runaway kidney, I’m drinking all the time,” Elliott said with a smile. Also, he cannot get hit on the field.

But other than those two things, nothing is different for Elliott, just like last year when he kept coaching as if nothing was wrong.

“I’ve never seen the resolve of a coach like Coach Elliot,” Elston said. “I’m so blessed to be part of his life and blessed to be coaching on the sideline with him. He’s just an amazing example of determination; a tough man. He did it all the right way. We teased him a little bit here and there about things he had to do, but it’s just an incredible story. I can’t imagine anybody else having to go through what he went through. It’s just incredible.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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