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Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2003

Mourning set for transplant

December 18, 2003

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— Former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning is scheduled to undergo kidney transplant surgery Friday in New York.

Mourning announced his retirement from basketball on Nov. 24 because of complications from kidney disease and has been actively searching for a matching kidney donor since. The New Jersey Nets, Mourning's last team, confirmed the impending surgery.

Mourning has received several offers from potential donors in the past month, and it is believed he is receiving a kidney from one of those donors.

Mourning, 33, was diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis in October 2000 and had tried to play professional basketball for the past three years despite the disease. He played just 88 games with the Heat during 2000-02 and another 12 games this season with the Nets.

While the Nets announced Mourning's retirement when the team learned of his deteriorating condition, there is precedent of a player returning to basketball after undergoing a kidney transplant.

Former San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliott played in the NBA after his kidney transplant in 1999. Elliott, who received a kidney from his brother, said it is possible Mourning will feel good enough to attempt a comeback, but only if he is completely healthy.

"I'm sure it's going to cross his mind," Elliott said.

While there is always a chance Mourning's body will reject the kidney, Elliott said Mourning should feel an immediate improvement after the surgery.

"The recovery part was amazing for me," Elliott said. "After I got out of intensive care, I had so much energy it was like someone turned a light on.

"My biggest obstacle was trying to control the activity."

Elliott, though, received his brother's kidney, which was a "perfect match," and Mourning's reaction could be different. Mourning will have to take antirejection drugs for the rest of his life. And he might need a transplant every 15 to 20 years.

"Unfortunately, kidneys don't necessarily last a lifetime. We have patients who've received three or four transplants," said Dr. David Roth.

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