Doctors' Notes

Alonzo Mourning: A Champion For Kidney Disease

Alonzo Mourning is not only an NBA champion but a champion for kidney disease. His inspiring story and the signs of kidney disease you need to look for.

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 


After a surprising diagnosis of kidney disease at a routine physical in 2000, Alonzo Mourning went on to ultimately have a life-saving kidney transplant just three years later to treat the disease.  Successfully staging one of the most epic comebacks in sports after what most might consider a career-ending kidney transplant surgery, Mourning went on to win an NBA Championship with the Miami Heat in 2006.

Retiring in 2009 after 15 seasons in the NBA, Mourning continues to lead a healthy lifestyle inclusive of a balanced diet, exercise and yoga.  Now a champion for increasing awareness in our community about kidney disease, Mourning has served as a spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation and continues his philanthropic efforts through his Mourning Family Foundation. 

One out of every 3 people living with kidney failure in this country are African American.  With March being National Kidney Month, this is the perfect time to highlight those who have survived a diagnosis of kidney disease and have gone on to champion the cause for increasing awareness in our community.  Kudos to Alonzo Mourning for continuing to empower, educate, and inspire us all.

Kidney disease often has a gradual onset with subtle symptoms.  Not sure what to look for? Check out these signs that you might need to be checked for kidney disease:

5 Signs You Might Have Kidney Disease

Itchy Skin: The kidneys are responsible for removing waste from the body.  When this process is not functioning properly, toxic buildup in the bloodstream can lead to itching of the skin.  If you have uncontrollable itching, let your doctor know immediately.

High Blood Pressure:  Often thought of as simply a condition that can lead to kidney disease, high blood pressure can also be a sign of undiagnosed kidney disease.  The kidneys are intricately involved in the regulation of blood pressure and if diseased, blood pressure may be one of the first signs.  If your blood pressure is difficult to control, be sure to ask if your kidneys have been checked.

Swelling:  We all have experienced occasional swelling after a hot day outdoors, or a long day of traveling, but persistent swelling in the hands, feet, or around the eyes might be a sign that your kidneys aren’t functioning properly.  Our kidneys are important for fluid elimination from the body, and when damaged, there can be fluid buildup and swelling.

Foamy Urine:  Persistently frothy or foamy urine can sometimes signal protein in the urine.  Protein in the urine is often times one of the earliest signs of kidney disease.  If there has been a change in the appearance of your urine, make sure you notify your doctor immediately.

Fatigue:  Most people with kidney disease report  an unusual level of fatigue.  This is often times related to many factors, including anemia- a common complication of kidney disease. Don’t assume fatigue is no big deal.  Sometimes fatigue is one of the first signs that something more serious is going on in the body.

While these symptoms aren’t always a sure sign of kidney disease, they do indicate that you need to contact your doctor.  If you experience any signs or symptoms out of the ordinary, make sure you notify your healthcare professional so you don’t miss a thing!

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall Magazine and host the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook UrbanHousecallMagazine, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!