TECUMSEH, Kan. — His fans remember him as a University of Kansas basketball hero from the 1990’s.
Now, former KU forward Alonzo Jamison is known as a man who needs a different kind of assist, as he faces a life-threatening illness.
His basketball past matters less than the future does for Jamison, now 47 years old. Twenty-five years ago, everyone in the Sunflower State knew his name. The California transplant helped power KU Coach Roy Williams to the NCAA Title Game in 1991.
But now, Jamison needs more than applause. He needs a new kidney. Doctors say he’s contending with renal failure, brought on by diabetes, which he says he’s fought since the mid-90’s. Every night, the father of five sleeps beside his dialysis machine, which helps flush out the toxins his kidneys can’t handle.
“I’ve never been in this position before,” Jamison told FOX 4 News.
“If I were to get off dialysis, I wouldn’t last very long. Right now, I’m at an even keel, but if I had a kidney, I could get off dialysis and do other things.”
Doctors tell Jamison the need for a kidney transplant is becoming more urgent, and treatment is getting expensive. Jamison says he’s been on dialysis treatments for over a year, which have cost approximately $10,000 per month. Jamison says his health insurance helps a little, but not as much as he needs.
“It sucks to see him not be able to do anything he wants. He’s tired and doesn’t have as much energy because of his health issues. You don’t want that for anyone in your family,” Madison Harrell, Jamison’s stepdaughter, said.
Jamison says diabetes runs in his family, and his case is serious enough that if he doesn’t have that transplant soon, he’ll risk losing his life. He says whether or not people chose to help him survive, he encourages them to get involved and help others.
“I want you to at least think about becoming a donor,” Jamison said. “If you haven’t signed the back of your driver’s license, please do that and check that box.”
Jamison says he keeps an overnight bag packed, and his cell phone is always close by, as he awaits a call for transplant surgery that could come at any minute.
“I know I’m going to get a kidney. It’s just a matter of when,” Jamison said.
His prayer is that a donated kidney arrives before the clock runs out.
Jamison will be the beneficiary of a charity auction held by Hoops for Hope KC. The auction will be held on Saturday, June 4th at Avila University in Kansas City.