Famous Entertainers with Kidney Disease

Kidney disease was not a disease that I was very familiar with before my diagnosis 30 years ago. In the church I am a part of, people will often share the health concerns that they, or members of their family, or close friends, have. To my knowledge, I am the only one who has ever spoken of kidney disease and dialysis. It seems as though kidney disease is rare. And yet, kidney disease is becoming increasingly common, often as a consequence of diabetes or uncontrolled high blood pressure. It is not exactly comforting, but it is interesting to me, therefore, that there are a number of well-known entertainers who have dealt with kidney disease. Here is a list of nine who I think are broadly known.

Four years ago, singer Natalie Cole was diagnosed with kidney failure and started getting dialysis treatments three times a week. Appearing on “Larry King Live,” she made an appeal for a kidney donor. Watching at home was a nurse named Esther who “serendipitously” had been on duty at the hospital one day when Natalie was in for treatment. “Oh, I took caNatalie-Colere of that lady,” the nurse told her niece, Jessica, who was also watching. “She’s so nice, I wish I could help her find a kidney.” Less than two months later, Jessica, who was only 30 years old and eight months pregnant, died unexpectedly of a stroke. Her aunt came forward and offered the kidney, because her niece was an organ donor. She was a perfect match with Natalie. (From http://www.nataliecole.com/biography.html)


Sean Elliott was a basketball player in the NBA, playing most of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. Shortly after the Spurs won their first championship in 1999, Elliott announced that he had been playing with kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosean_elliottsis, and that he would require a transplant. He underwent surgery on August 16 of that year, receiving a kidney from his older brother, Noel. On March 13, 2000, Elliott became the first player to return after a kidney transplant, in a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He would only play in 19 games in the 2000 season, and San Antonio failed to repeat as champions. Elliott started in 34 of 52 games in the following 2000-2001 season, as the Spurs won the best record in the league but lost to the eventual champion Lakers in the conference finals. (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Elliott)


Fans of the TV series Modern Family may be familiar with the actress, Sarah Hyland. In 2012 she revealed thaSarah-Hyland-Hairstyles-Side-parted-Medium-Layered-Haircutt she had been suffering from kidney dysplasia since childhood. Her father donated a kidney to her in April of that year. Hyland gave an interview to Seventeen magazine while recovering from the transplant surgery. She spoke of feeling “grateful to have got through the operation safely and healthily.” She said, “I have a second chance at life—not a lot of people get that.”


Ivan Klasnić is a professional soccer player, or footballer, if you prefer. While a player for Werner Bremen in the German Bundesliga during the 2006-2007 season, he fell ill, eventually suffering kidney failure in early 2007. He claimed that his illness was detectable as early as 2002 by the club doctors Ivan+Klasnic+Bolton+Wanderers+v+Macclesfield+BLtKP8AVrPhland sued them in court. In January 2007, he received a kidney transplant from his mother, but his body rejected the new organ. In March 2007, he underwent surgery to replace the rejected kidney, this time receiving a kidney from his father. The second transplant was a success. In November 2007, he was selected to start for Werder for the first time since December 2006, and played 65 minutes for his. In March 2008, Klasnić was recalled to the national team. He became the first player ever to participate at a major tournament after a kidney transplant when he played at Euro 2008 and scored against both Poland in the group stage and against Turkey in the quarter-finals. (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Klasni%C4%87)


Comedian George Lopez was born with a congenital abnormality that caused a narrowing of his ureters, the tubes through which urine travels from each kidney to the bladder. Because of George’s narrow ureters, waste could not flow freely out. Instead, it began to flow backward, slowly poisoning his kidneys and inching them closer to kidney failure. Though he never underwent dialysis, hgeorgelopeze came awfully close. In 2005, his wife Ann donated one of her kidneys to Lopez. The transplant was successful; Lopez lost 45 lbs. after the operation due in part to the improvement in his health. He brought awareness to the issue on his show; his character’s son Max was diagnosed with a similar illness. (From: http://www.webmd.com/men/features/perfect-match; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lopez)


30 Rock actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996, a common precursor to kidneytracy-morgan failure. In late 2010, he received a kidney transplant from an ex-girlfriend, Tanisha Hall. (See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/20/tracy-morgan-kidney-transplant_n_799489.html)


Alonzo Mourning was a professional basketball player who spent the bulk of his career with the Miami Heat. On November 25, 2003, Mourning’s cousin and a retired U. S. Marine, Jason Cooper, was visiting Mourning’s gravely ill grandmother in the hospital. Mourning’s father was present and informed Cooper that Mourning was retiring that very same day from the NBA because of a life-threatening kidney disease, focal segmental glomeruloscalonzo_mourninglerosis, the same problem that Sean Elliott had in 1999. Cooper asked if there was anything he could do, and began to contemplate donating one of his kidneys to his estranged cousin, whom he had not seen in 25 years and whom he only knew through basketball. Mourning received Cooper’s left kidney on December 19, 2003. Mourning went on to play professionally for several more years, officially retiring in early 2009. (From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alonzo_Mourning)


The virtuoso keyboardist, often referred to as the fifth Beatle, Billy Preston, dealt with kidney disease in his later yebilly-prestonars, brought on by high blood pressure. In 2002, he received a kidney transplant. However, the transplant failed and he was on dialysis until his death in 2006, at age 59. (From: http://www.billypreston.net/)


Playwright Neil Simon suffered from polycystic kidney disease and was required to start dialysis in 2002. He opted for hemodialysis treatments three times a week, but suffered from a number of side effects, including nausea, cramps and memory loss. As his condition deteriorated, more frequent dialysis was recommended. Doctors said a transplant at his age would not be a problem. What could be difficult, however, was getting a kidney from a living donor, which offers the highest success rate in transplantation. Although Simon had seriously started thinking about a transplant, it didn’t become a real possibility until a routine phone call with Bill Evans, Simon’s publicist for nearly three decades. “He says, ‘What’s new?’ I said, I have to get a donor for my kidney,” recalled Neil-SimonSimon. “Bill was quiet, and then said, ‘I’ll do it.’ It was unbelievable that someone was going to do this for me. We had tests, and we were a match.” Evans maintained that part of his lack of hesitation was because he considered Simon part of his family. He said in an interview for The New York Times that he “was raised to believe that if a loved one is in trouble, you show up.” Plus, when Evans had some personal problems, Simon was there for him. He said he also did research that showed one can lead a perfectly normal life with one kidney. The successful surgery was performed in March 2004. (From: http://www.newsletternet.com/newsletter.asp?clientcode=UZIUNZRUQK&issueid=2139&newsid=7&review)

For a list of other celebrities who have had organ transplants, go to http://www.ranker.com/list/celebrities-who-have-received-organ-transplants/celebrity-lists


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