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Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Updated: November 27, 3:52 PM ET
Potential donors will be screened

Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. -- Dozens of people from around the country are interested in donating a kidney to New Jersey Nets star Alonzo Mourning.

Gregory Perrin of the Kidney and Urology Foundation of America said his organization received about 60 calls Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking information on how to become a donor.

About half the callers asked specifically about donating a kidney to Mourning, said Perrin, the organization's director of marketing and development. Other callers were interested in organ donation in general.

Mourning declined to comment Wednesday through agent Jeff Wechsler, who said potential donations were a private matter.

The outpouring followed Monday's announcement that Mourning needs a kidney transplant and will have to retire. He suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.

"We're regretful that Mr. Mourning has to go through this, but at the same time he's an inspiration," Perrin said from his New York office. "He's stepped forward to talk about his disease over the years, and that takes a lot of the fear factor away for people."

The 33-year-old player was diagnosed with the disease before the 2000-01 season while with Miami. He missed the first 69 games of that season but played the full 2001-02 season, averaging 15.7 points and 8.4 rebounds. He missed all of last season.

In his comeback this year, he played in 12 games for the Nets, averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.9 minutes. He looked exhausted when he left the court for a breather during his final game Saturday.

Mourning was notified about the latest developments Sunday by Dr. Gerald Appel, a kidney specialist at Columbia University Medical Center. He was told his kidney function had deteriorated in recent weeks and the chemical imbalances in his blood made it dangerous for him to play.

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, known as FSGS, affects the filters of the kidney that are responsible for removing toxins from the urine. It frequently does not produce symptoms and can only be diagnosed through a kidney biopsy. There is no single cause of FSGS.

According to statistics compiled by the Kidney and Urology Foundation, about 83,000 people await organ transplants in the United States, including 57,000 awaiting kidney transplants. Perrin said, on average, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.

Potential donors undergo psychological and medical tests to determine if their motives are altruistic, said Anne Paschke, a spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization that manages the nation's transplant system and maintains the national organ waiting list.

About 20 percent of patients who receive a transplant suffer a recurrence of FSGS, said Dr. Ira Greifer, a professor of pediatric nephrology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York and the president of the Kidney and Urology Foundation.