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Power Forward

Alonzo Mourning with basketball

Alonzo Mourning

Basketball Hall-of-Famer & Kidney Health Advocate Living with AMKD

Alonzo Mourning is a paid spokesperson for Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Alonzo's story

Learn more about how we can Power Forward, together.

Since the start of his legendary career, basketball Hall-of-Famer Alonzo Mourning has been known for his tenacity and never-give-up attitude. But at the height of his career, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disease now known as a form of APOL1-mediated kidney disease (AMKD).

Luckily, Alonzo’s physicians were able to detect warning signs through a routine physical, and they confirmed his diagnosis by conducting follow-up tests. He was fortunate to receive a kidney transplant and now lives a healthy, active lifestyle. He encourages others to be proactive about their health by learning their family history of kidney disease and seeing a doctor for regular checkups. And for those who have kidney disease, he encourages seeking further testing to understand your APOL1 genotype.

Understanding Our Opponent

What is APOL1?

Everyone has the APOL1 gene. It’s present in many tissues, including the kidneys, and it’s a part of the body’s immune system. Over the past 3,000-10,000 years, the gene evolved in specific ways in people who lived in sub-Saharan Africa to protect them from resistant forms of an infectious parasite. This evolution resulted in the emergence of “genetic variants” or “risk variants” of the APOL1 gene.

In 2010, scientists found that people with two APOL1 risk variants face increased risk of kidney disease. Today, people of sub-Saharan African ancestry may carry these APOL1 genetic variants, including people who identify as Black, African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Latino/Latina.

37M

An estimated 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease

35%

African Americans account for 35% of all kidney failure cases

4-5x

Americans of African ancestry are 4-5x more likely to develop kidney failure than Americans of European descent

13%

13% of African Americans have two APOL1 risk variants

Resources

If you have kidney disease and/or other characteristics of AMKD (as outlined on the Doctor Discussion Guide), you may want to speak with your doctor about seeking a genetic test to confirm whether you have the APOL1 risk variants. This process is called "genotyping" and it is conducted through a simple blood test. To learn more about the genetics of AMKD and genotyping, check out these additional resources from kidney health advocacy organizations.

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About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Learn more about CKD and what causes it from the American Kidney Fund.
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APOL1 Gene and Kidney Disease

Learn more about the APOL1 risk variants from the American Kidney Fund.
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Does Kidney Disease Run in Your Family?

Family history may put you at increased risk for kidney disease. Learn more from NephCure.
Learn More

Genetics and Kidney Disease

Learn why people with certain genetic variants may develop kidney disease from the National Kidney Foundation.
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Understanding APOL1 Kidney Disease Among Black Americans

Learn about Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in Black Americans from NephCure.
Learn More

About APOL1-Mediated Kidney Disease

About APOL1-Mediated Kidney Disease

AMKD is a genetic form of kidney disease. It causes damage to the kidney that causes protein to appear in the urine. It is often silent – people don't feel sick until it is advanced. It can lead to rapid kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Going on the Offensive

Like other chronic kidney diseases, AMKD can progress quickly and without obvious symptoms at first.

Powering Forward means taking action – having open conversations with your family and your doctor about your health and family history of kidney disease.

It’s important to talk to your doctor to understand if you have kidney disease, or are at risk of developing it.

If you’re looking for advice for how to talk to your doctor about AMKD, be sure to check out our Doctor Discussion Guide.

Download Discussion Guide
Alonzo Mourning with two women

Join the Team

We’re powering forward, together. Help others in the community know the risk of APOL1-mediated kidney disease and take action for their health.

Power forward like Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning with two women

1. Take charge of your health: know your family history. Does anyone in your family have kidney disease?

2. See a doctor regularly: talk to them about your personal risk of kidney disease and how to stay healthy.

3. Get tested for kidney disease if you have symptoms. If you are diagnosed with kidney disease and have other characteristics of AMKD (as outlined in the Doctor Discussion Guide), talk to your doctor about getting genotyped for the APOL1 risk variants.

#PowerForwardTogether

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“I am an active participant in my own health. None of us can sit back and wait for somebody to do it for us. We all have to take the first step.”

Alonzo Mourning Basketball Hall-of-Famer & Kidney Health Advocate Living with AMKD