Carter Cojei (Michigan)

School: University of Michigan

Major: Business Administration - Focusing in Strategy + Marketing

Hometown: South Lyon, MI

Hello! My name is Carter Cojei, and I am a Junior at the University of Michigan. I was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of four with Crohn’s Disease. I was quickly put on medications, some of which helped for a short period while others didn’t work at all. After trying everything from diets, tube feedings, and medications, I had a severe flare that led to me being hospitalized in 2009. I continued to get worse during this admission, rapidly losing significant amounts of blood and weight. About a week into this admission, I was left with no choice but to have my colon removed and have an ileostomy created. Of course, being only eight years old at the time, I was extremely nervous about having an ileostomy and what my life would look like with it. Fortunately, a few months later, I was back to playing soccer and running around like a reckless kid, which I’m sure freaked out my parents a little bit. From here, things got better for about a year until my symptoms started slowly creeping back. After performing many tests, the doctors saw that my Crohn’s had spread into my small intestine. I was quickly put back on a biologic that previously hadn’t worked for the Crohn’s affecting my colon. Luckily, this time it worked for my small intestines, and I am currently still on this biologic twelve years later. Of course, I‘ve had several bumps in the road since the removal of my colon in 2009. One year after my ileostomy was created, I had a prolapse of my small intestine, which required surgery. Also, I have had two stoma revision surgeries (2018 and 2019) and one peristomal hernia surgery (2020). But, most recently, in 2021, I had the rest of my rectal stump removed after the disease had spread severely and caused many problems. With that surgery, my ileostomy is now permanent. But, my ileostomy has improved my quality of life dramatically, and I can’t see living life without it! Through all of this, I had participated in several events with the foundation, like the Take Steps events. I am incredibly excited to be a part of the NCCL and represent the foundation going forward to help all those suffering from IBD!