Friday, 03 September 2010 00:00
Matthew Levine, an 8-year-old Melville resident, met former NBA star Alonzo Mourning on Monday, Aug. 16 during Mourning’s annual charity golf tournament. Matthew has the kidney disease FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis). Mourning had the same disease prior to undergoing a kidney transplant.
However, unlike Mourning, Matthew has been living with FSGS since he was 2 1/2 years old. He continues to have daily battles with a barrage of medicines and severe body pains. Matthew is happy, playful and just wants to have fun, but since being diagnosed with FSGS he has now been working to understand the struggles of everyday life.
Both of Matthew’s parents, Dana and Michael, are very involved in The NephCure Foundation (www.nephcure. org) and just want their son to live a normal life. Michael is a member of the NephCure Board of Directors. Also, he is the owner of L&L Paint Company, located in Hicksville.
“Matthew was so happy to meet Alonzo Mourning,” said Michael Levine. “He is such an imposing figure, but knowing that FSGS doesn’t play favorites and affected this 7-foot star athlete and my son is scared, we are all working so hard to try and find answers to this incurable disease.”
The Levine Family is spearheading NephCure/Ed Hearn Night at the Mets game on Friday, Sept. 10 at Citi Field. Hearn was a member of the ’86 world championship Mets team who has had three kidney transplants due to FSGS. Tickets for the event can be purchased by visiting www.savingkidneys.org with a percentage of sales going towards kidney disease research.
“We hope that this event not only raises money in our fight against FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome, but also raises awareness,” said Levine. “NephCure is a great resource for families dealing with this silent killer.”
Mourning, a famous basketball player and NephCure Ambassador, was diagnosed with FSGS in 2000 and in 2003 he received a kidney transplant. In 2004, he was able to return to playing basketball and eventually win a championship with the Miami Heat. FSGS is five times more prevalent in African Americans.
“Alonzo is one of the lucky ones whose transplant has worked,” added Levine. “We know countless patients who have had a number of transplants and continue to suffer today. Matthew takes medications that cause countless other side effects. NephCure is bringing hope to those patients by supporting key research initiatives, raising over $6 million in the last three years alone.”
FSGS, the second-leading cause of kidney failure in children, and Nephrotic Syndrome are conditions that affect the tiny filtering mechanisms in the kidney. The result is that beneficial protein is spilled from the kidney into the urine and lost. FSGS has continued to increase tremendously every year and it has become even harder to find a cure and treatment to this kidney disease. Of the drugs that are available to the U.S., only eight of them treat kidney disease according to doctors at Harvard Medical School.