Alonzo Mourning Talks About His Near-Fatal Illness

ByABC News
July 8, 2006, 6:28 PM

July 9, 2006 — -- NBA center Alonzo Mourning enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience when his team, the Miami Heat, won the NBA championship. It was a moment that he almost did not get to be a part of. Mourning suffered from a rare kidney disorder and had to get a double transplant in order to survive. He spoke to "This Week" about the importance of organ donation and staying healthy.

Alonzo Mourning: I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder called focal glomerulosclerosis. The kidney function was deteriorating, and at that particular point we had to discuss possible donors. It was just a matter of finding the right one.

I thought about being a world champion day one since I picked up a ball.

For me to come out of this the way I've come out of it and to win a world championship and overcome all those obstacles, and obviously you look at it from the outside, looking in and say, "Wow, that's an incredible story." But in essence it is. And a lot of the reason why I came out of it and I think the reason why is to help change the lives and inspire others to overcome and not to succumb to what they might be dealing with.

I want everybody to just focus a little bit more on your health, 'cause we ignore it so many times. Get regular check ups at least once a year. Also, you too, like I said, can change someone else's life through organ donation. So go to your local DMV and fill out the card.

Recycle yourself. Become an organ donor. Obviously, I'm a living testament to that transplantation saves lives. And know that there are thousands of people -- thousands, thousands of people -- who are waiting on transplant lists today, just waiting for a second opportunity at life. And, you know, that's what I was given -- another opportunity to live.