Heat's Mourning Issues Warning

New York, NY (February 5, 2002) - NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning is playing defense against a new and formidable opponent – kidney disease. In a National Kidney Foundation print and broadcast public service campaign launched today, Mourning scores points by telling Americans who's at risk and when to take action.

Mourning, back in the Miami Heat lineup after kidney disease sidelined him for months last year, delivers the news that high blood pressure and diabetes can damage kidneys without any warning and urges people with those conditions to get tested. The TV spot opens with game footage in which Mourning's desperation shot in the final moments saves the day. He contrasts gaining the upper hand in basketball vs. health with the message that "hitting a buzzer beater may make you a hero on the court, but when it comes to preventing kidney disease, waiting until the last second NEVER wins." The National Kidney Foundation campaign slogan is Don't Let Kidney Disease Catch You Off Guard.

Says Mourning, "Because I can personally identify with the disorder, this campaign gives me the opportunity to bring awareness to a disease that most people aren't familiar with."

Kidney disease affects 20 million Americans, many of whom don't even know they have it, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Millions more are at risk of developing kidney disease, yet most people are unaware of what the risk factors are. "We now know that early detection and treatment, including diet and medication, can slow the progression of kidney disease and even prevent further damage, in some cases," says William Keane, MD, president of the National Kidney Foundation.

"We want everyone to take two simple tests for kidney disease – blood and urine. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of those conditions and or kidney disease should be especially vigilant," continues Keane. African Americans are particularly hard hit by kidney disease due to their high rate of high blood pressure and diabetes. Others at risk include American Indians, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders and those over 60.

The television PSA has been distributed to hundreds of stations across the country. A companion version in print, for newspapers and magazines, features Mourning and Sean Elliott of the San Antonio Spurs, the first-ever professional player to make a comeback after a kidney transplant. Mourning and Elliott were both afflicted with the same form of kidney disease – focal glomerulosclerosis. Elliott has served as National Kidney Foundation spokesperson since 1999.

Mourning is well-known for his charitable initiatives. Over the past few years, Zo's Summer Groove has served as a fund raising vehicle for The Alonzo Mourning Charities and its benefitting organizations to improve the lives of at-risk, abused and neglected children. In 2001, Mourning launched "Zo's Fund For Life," a campaign to raise funds and awareness for kidney disorders. To date, Zo's Fund for Life has received contributions and commitments of nearly $2 million.

The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.

To view the television PSA click here (1.93MB)

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For more information on kidney disease contact the NKF at (800)622-9010.