College Football Player Disappears from Field for 2 Games, Then Coach Announces He’s Been Hospitalized

The starting punter for the University of Northern Iowa ended up in the hospital after fighting what he thought was cold. He is now said to be in “critically stable” condition.

The punter, Cael Loecher, missed two games before it was reported that he was in the hospital battling illness, Iowa radio station KCRR reported.

Jim Nelson, a reporter for the The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, tweeted about Loecher’s illness and hospitalization on Oct. 8.

“Can confirm that Northern Iowa will be without No. 1 punter Cael Loecher today. Loecher has been hospitalized at the University of Iowa hospitals battling an unknown illness for more than a week. He [did not play] against Indiana State #EverLoyal” Nelson tweeted.

The head coach of the University of Northern Iowa Panthers Mark Farley then confirmed the report, KCRR said.

“Cael is very sick. I don’t know what else I can say, but I will tell you we miss him. Hopefully we’ll get him back sooner rather than later, but it won’t be for a while,” Farley said.

On Oct. 11, Nelson reported an update on Loecher’s condition for The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

His condition and illness had originally been either undiagnosed or unreported, but Nelson revealed that Loecher’s illness had been identified as granulomatosis with polyangitis, a type of vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “granulomatosis with polyangiitis is an uncommon disorder that causes inflammation of the blood vessels in your nose, sinuses, throat, lungs and kidneys.”

Nelson said the condition can be fatal.

The punter’s mother, Lisa Loecher, told Nelson that her son originally just thought he was fighting a cold because he had a cough that he thought he caught in Colorado when UNI played Air Force in Colorado Springs, The Courier reported.

After the cough persisted, Loecher went to the doctor and later ended up in the emergency room the morning of UNI’s game against Indiana State.

“He called me the morning of the game and asked if I was coming because he felt horrible. I told him I was on my way, and we went back to the ER where they ran more tests,” Loecher’s mother told the Courier.

“Then a pulmonologist ran a scope on his lungs and they were filled with blood from the air sacs (alveoli) bursting. At that point he was going to be airlifted to either Mayo or Iowa City, whomever called first. I think we were at the ER at 9 a.m. and on a helicopter by 11:30 a.m.,” she added.

Loecher’s mother said that since then, the doctors have told her that her son is stable, but not out of danger yet.

“The doctors consider him critically stable right now,” she told the Courier.

Due to the condition having a serious effect on the lungs, Lisa said doctors have sedated Loecher.

“The doctors have put him in what they call paralyzed sedation, which allows his lungs to rest as much as possible,” Lisa told the Courier.

On Monday the doctors tested to see if Loecher could breathe on his own.

“He lasted 10 minutes. Today, he lasted 20 minutes. The doctors hope that maybe by next week he could be taken off intubation,” Lisa said.

Loecher’s mother said that they are hoping the punter will improve, though the process could be slow.

“We’re hopeful he will continue to improve … but to say the least what we thought was a really bad cold turned into a whole lot worse,” Lisa said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.