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Former Luers, North Side football standout Randon Moore finds relief after long health battle

Former Luers and North Side defensive back Randon Moore can now focus back on his college football career after a long battle with MALS. (Courtesy photo)

Randon Moore feels like a new man.

In many ways, he is.

Throughout his prep football career at Bishop Luers and North Side and into college, Moore has loved the competitiveness and physicality of the defensive back position.

But something always held Moore back from his full potential.

“I would always be way more tired than everyone else,” said Moore. “Coaches always thought I was slacking.”

Randon Moore as a senior at North Side in 2014. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

Through high school, Moore was able to cover for his lack of stamina with his athletic ability. But things changed in college, first at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and now at Northwest Oklahoma State.

Workouts were longer.

Drills were tougher.

And Moore found himself getting more tired and less effective on the football field. But it wasn’t just performance that was being affected.

Moore suffered three bouts of hypothermia while playing in Nebraska. In chilly weather, he wore “literally” 10 layers of Under Armor, as well as thick gloves and socks. Yet Moore still was sluggish and out of breath during practice. At one point, Moore was rushed to the emergency room for hypothermia, covered in warm rags and given hot chocolate.

Randon Moore shows off the scars from his surgery to relieve pressure on an aorta in his midsection caused by MALS. (Courtesy photo)

Doctors tried to explain the issues away, everything from asthma to respiratory malfunction. No amount of pills or diet changes made any difference.

After transferring schools last year, things began to get worse. During spring practice last year, Moore noticed that is belly was getting bigger, yet he wasn’t gaining weight. Friends would kid around saying how tubby he was getting around the midsection. No amount of sit-ups made any difference.

“I went to doctor after doctor. They said that I was just backed up and to take a laxative or maybe I was lactose intolerant,” Moore said. “Nothing ever changed.”

For Moore’s parents — Derrick and Cynthia Moore — back in Indiana, it was a stressful time.

“Being miles and miles away and knowing there is nothing you can do, it tears you up inside,” Derrick said. “It makes you feel irresponsible as a parent, even though you have no fault.”

Despite repeated visits to doctors, Randon’s condition worsened into last fall. A gastroenterologist diagnosed him with irritable bowel syndrome. The pills meant to treat him made things even worse.

“I had to tell my roommates when I was about to take the pills to get out of the way in case I had to run to the bathroom,” Randon said. “I was telling my coaches that if they saw me running off the field in the middle of a play, they would know what was going on.”

The presence of the bloated belly signified the fact that whatever Randon was suffering from was not getting treated. Three games into Northwest Oklahoma State’s season last fall, the coaches decided to redshirt him.

“They wanted me to figure out what was happening,” Randon said.

An EKG and a colonoscopy late in the fall showed that everything looked fine. Another pill was prescribed. It didn’t help, with Moore, a perennial A-student, now missing academic classes due to the pain and fatigue.

By the time winter break came, Randon’s parents had had enough. A visit to a different doctor in Fort Wayne ordered a CT scan. Finally, Randon and his family got some answers.

“They sat me down and said, ‘Everything looked good in your stomach, but we saw something strange,'” Randon said. “I thought they were going to say I swallowed a coin or something, but they said it was MALS.”

MALS is short for median arcuate ligament syndrome, a condition in which a ligament tightens around an artery that delivers blood to the stomach, liver and other organs. When the artery is constricted and less blood is circulated, the heart must compensate by pumping more blood through other means. This leads to fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and bloating.

Randon had suffered through MALS his entire life, with the ligament tightening further as he grew older.

Finally, the Moore family had some answers.

So Randon went to the Cleveland Clinic and on March 19 had microscopic surgery to cut the ligament. Doctors said the artery was nearly completely closed from being constricted.

Almost immediately, Randon felt some relief.

“We saw improvement even in the first 72 hours that we were in Cleveland,” dad Derrick said.

While Randon’s parents were ecstatic that their son was feeling better, Derrick in a way felt guilty.

“When he was coming up I was always pushing him, not knowing he had a condition the entire time,” Derrick said. “Some doctors said it was his imagination. It makes you feel irresponsible as a parent.”

Luckily, Randon’s condition was diagnosed before it became even more serious. Some people who cannot get the issue identified properly have organs removed due to misdiagnosis. In extreme cases, the condition is not found until an autopsy following death.

Now, Randon can focus on (finally) being healthy. His stamina has improved tremendously. On the football field, he looks back to returning to Oklahoma with three years of eligibility remaining. His parents can finally rest easy that their son has been healed.

“I feel a lot better, like a new man really,” Randon said. “I am blessed where I’m at and that MALS was finally found.

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