Other Athletes with FSGS Offer Wishes for Alonzo Mourning

NephCure Foundation Seeks Cause and Cure of the Disease

BERWYN, Pa., Dec. 19, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Two former professional athletes who underwent kidney transplants due to a disease known as FSGS have joined The NephCure Foundation in offering prayers and support to NBA Star Alonzo Mourning as he recovers from transplant surgery. They also enthusiastically embrace NephCure's mission supporting research to conquer FSGS.

World-renown bodybuilder Kenneth "Flex" Wheeler, 38, ranked second in the world at his peak, said, "Alonzo is true warrior" and prayed that Mourning's new kidney stays healthy and free from FSGS. Wheeler underwent a kidney transplant this past September, but said doctors have since found the FSGS is "still there" and prescribed steroid treatment.

Ed Hearn, 43, a catcher with the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets, said he hoped Mourning has a successful recovery and sees a positive aspect to battling the kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).

"He has the opportunity to make a difference for so many people because he can both bring awareness to FSGS and influence the way other patients handle the challenges of this disease," said Hearn, who has had three kidney transplants due to FSGS.

Both Wheeler and Hearn have published books recounting their careers and their long battle with FSGS. More information about each and links to their web sites can be found at the NephCure web site at www.nephcure.org -- http://www.nephcure.org.

FSGS attacks the tiny filters in the kidney, causing protein to spill into the urine and scar the kidneys, often destroying them.

FSGS returns in more than 20 percent of those patients who are transplanted, according to William E. Smoyer, M.D., NephCure board member and nephrologist at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

"We think that recurrence may be due to an unknown circulating factor or factors in the blood, but we've yet to identify exactly what it is. We need more research to better understand the cause of the disease in the native kidney and the cause in transplanted kidneys," said Dr. Smoyer.

Some other FSGS facts:

   -- The incidence of FSGS is on the rise, according to national 
      experts and it strikes a higher proportion of African-

   -- The federal government will begin next year a $12 million
      clinical trial for 500 FSGS patients nationwide, the first of 
      its type and scope, to study the effect of various medications. 

   -- Experts say the key is research into the cause and cure.

   -- NephCure is the only organization exclusively fighting FSGS.

NephCure and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) will fund such research with a $600,000 matching grant program in which NIDDK will match every dollar NephCure raises.

NephCure is the only organization exclusively fighting FSGS.

Information on FSGS and other patients and the effort by NephCure to find a cause and cure can be found at www.NephCure.org -- http://www.nephcure.org or by calling 1-866 NEPHCURE(637-4287).

The NephCure Foundation logo can be found at: http://media.primezone.com/prs/single/?pkgid=769


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