New York, NY (May 2, 2002) - Former San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliott, who made sports history with his unprecedented return to the NBA just seven months after life-saving transplant surgery, will serve as spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation and its 2002 U.S. Transplant Games. Elliott, who is now Spurs color commentator, will join his fellow transplant athletes for the second time at the event.
This Olympic-style event, being held in Orlando on June 26-29 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, originated in 1990 and consists entirely of transplant recipients who have also undergone life-saving organ surgery of every type, including kidney, heart, liver, lung, pancreas and bone marrow. Transplant athletes will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in 13 different sports, ranging from track and field to tennis, swimming, cycling, golf and basketball. Sean Elliott will address the group of 8,000 transplant athletes and donors at Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday evening, June 26, and conduct a basketball clinic and medals presentation.
Elliott, 34, helped propel the Spurs to their NBA championship by sinking his now-famous, off-balance "miracle shot" to win a crucial playoff game on Memorial Day, 1999. Even more of a miracle, Elliott was playing with a kidney disease no one knew about for some six years. The disease, focal glomerulosclerosis, prevents the kidneys from properly filtering waste from the blood.
Finally, in July, 1999, just a month after the Spurs won their title, Elliott announced that he needed a kidney transplant or he faced the prospect of dialysis. And a month later, on August 16th, Elliott underwent transplant surgery and received a healthy kidney donated by his older brother, Noel. Says Sean, "Sometimes I just stop and think, my brother is living inside of me now. It's overwhelming."
Even more overwhelming was Sean Elliott's dramatic comeback to the NBA courts on March 14, 2000. His third-quarter slam dunk against the Atlanta Hawks brought down the house in San Antonio and secured his place in sports and medical history as the only professional athlete to resume active play after major transplant surgery.
"I'm thrilled to return to the court, but as evidenced by the Transplant Games, I'm not the only transplant recipient to compete in sports. What's important is that people can see that transplantation works and begin to consider becoming organ donors." Attendance at the 2002 U.S. Transplant Games is expected to reach 8,000 including transplant athletes, organ donors, their families and friends, and the families of deceased donors.
The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary nonprofit health organization, is dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of kidneys for transplantation.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, founding sponsor of the U.S. Transplant Games, has supported the event since 1990. A partner to the transplant community, Novartis is committed to enhancing therapeutic options, quality of life and the long term success of therapy for transplant recipients.