Former NBA champion Sean Elliott is subbing back in for Fresenius Kidney Care to raise awareness about kidney disease.
A two-time NBA All-Star, Elliott was diagnosed with a kidney disease known as focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS) during the 1992-93 season and received a donation from his brother following the San Antonio Spurs’ victory in the 1999 NBA Finals.
The National Organization of Rare Diseases describes FSGS as a “varied, complex pattern of kidney damage” where the filters of the organ become scarred or hardened. Around 40,000 people in the U.S. have FSGS, according to NephCure Kidney International.
There are medications available to treat the disease, though some patients may ultimately require dialysis or a kidney transplant, like Elliott, who became the first professional athlete to return to playing after receiving an organ transplant.
Now, he is once again speaking publicly about understanding kidney health and getting tested during National Kidney Month.
“While living with kidney disease, I was able to return to the game I love and be there for my family,” Elliott said in a statement. “I want to empower more people to learn about their kidney health, test for the disease early, and focus on thriving, even with the diagnosis of a kidney condition.”
A widespread issue in the U.S., kidney disease affects 37 million people, according to the American Kidney Fund.
One complication facing those with chronic kidney disease beyond being diagnosed and treated is the availability of healthy kidneys for a transplant. While 95% of Americans support organ donation, just over half are actually registered donors, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit that has been active in encouraging more people to register.
Elliott first teamed up with Fresenius in March 2022 to raise awareness about kidney health and promote good habits and lifestyle choices.
“Sean’s story — his diagnosis of kidney disease, his successful transplant, his return to the basketball court, and his active life since retiring from playing — shows that living a full life with kidney disease can be done,” said Bill Valle, CEO of the Care Delivery segment of Fresenius Medical Care, in a statement. “Our teams of nurses, technicians, dietitians, social workers, and other care providers strive to help our patients manage kidney disease and, like Sean, live their lives to the fullest.”
In addition to his kidney care work with Fresenius, Elliott has also served as an ambassador for Methodist Healthcare to remind patients to prioritize their heart health and free online risk assessment.