Alonzo Mourning Talks About His Near-Fatal Illness

ByABC News

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.

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