Grateful Patient Day Spotlights Life-Saving Care & Treatment

For Jana from Moraga, California, it’s the researchers whose drug halted her grandfather’s prostate cancer– buying him time to instill in her a lifelong love of tennis.  

For Randy, it’s the kidney transplant and maintenance medications that kept him strong enough to complete his 58th half marathon.

And for Adrienne, it’s the team of doctors and researchers moving toward a universal cure for sickle cell disease – which may soon break the inherited disease’s hold on generations of her family.

They’re grateful.  And on Saturday, September 7, their stories will feature alongside those of patients and families across the country on the third annual national Grateful Patient Day. The marque program of the nonprofit Grateful Patient Project, the day uses the social media hashtag #GratefulPatient to unite expressions of thanks for doctors, nurses, researchers, facilities and medical innovations that make a difference in the lives of patients.

Grateful Patient Project founder and former NFL Man of the Year Rolf Benirschke thanks two UC San Diego Health nurses who care for Crohn’s and colitis patients like him.

First officially recognized in 2017, Grateful Patient Day is the creation of a man who’s no stranger to gratitude – or to medical complications.  Rolf Benirschke, former San Diego Chargers placekicker and NFL Man of the Year, founded the project as an outpouring of his own gratitude after a series of medical setbacks. 

Benirschke’s third season with the Chargers was cut short in 1978 when he collapsed from battling ulcerative colitis. He required two emergency surgeries within six days. And he spent almost six weeks in the intensive care unit fighting for his life. He survived and, even more remarkably, he returned to play seven more seasons with the San Diego Chargers, becoming the first NFL player ever to wear an ostomy appliance.

After retiring from the NFL, Rolf Benirschke was shocked to discover that he had acquired hepatitis C from the nearly 80 units of blood he received during his surgeries. He joined three year-long clinical trials over an eight-year period before finally being cured of the virus in 2004.

Benirschke came through the ordeal “committed to spending my life advocating on behalf of patients,” he recalls.  Benirschke has since dedicated his time to patient advocacy and to supporting the research and innovation that leads to new medical treatments.  No effort more clearly conveys his commitment to giving back than Grateful Patient Day.

To learn more, visit  And share your own story of gratitude on September 7 using #GratefulPatient.

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