Thursday, January 7, 2016

Former KU forward Alonzo Jamison needs kidney

Former Jayhawk basketball player Alonzo Jamison runs a 2006 Mill Valley practice.

Former Jayhawk basketball player Alonzo Jamison runs a 2006 Mill Valley practice.


Former Kansas University basketball forward Alonzo Jamison, who works as a commercial account manager for Ricoh Americas Corporation in Topeka and lives in nearby Tecumseh, did not attend Monday’s epic triple-overtime victory over Oklahoma in Allen Fieldhouse.

The 8:10 p.m. start conflicted with Jamison’s nightly, eight-hour dialysis treatment, which cleanses his blood and removes all toxins from his 6-foot-6, 230-pound body.

“It’s probably the most electric I’ve seen that place,” Jamison, a starter on KU’s 1991 NCAA runner-up team, said of the fieldhouse, “and I watched at home on TV.”

Jamison — he was diagnosed as borderline diabetic his freshman year at KU in 1988-89 but was able to manage the condition until March of 2015, when his kidneys stopped functioning as a result of End Stage Renal Disease — hooked himself up to his peritoneal dialysis machine at halftime of Monday’s 109-106 thriller.

Normally he sleeps through the night while receiving his lifesaving treatments, but this evening he was glued to the KU game until the finish.

“Let’s just say the right team won that game,” Jamison said with a laugh, heaping praise on the No. 1-ranked Jayhawks. “I see a lot of my last years at KU in this team. They (players, coaches) are enjoying themselves, which is always a good thing. It sounds like a cliche, but if you enjoy what you are doing, enjoy going to practice, playing games and enjoy the people around you, that is a big deal,” Jamison, head coach of Bethel College from 2011 to ’14, added.

Jamison, who enjoys his full-time job in which he represents a company that sells software, computers, copiers and the like, cannot even consider a return to coaching basketball until he gets his current medical situation resolved.

Alonzo needs a healthy, functioning kidney.

Thus, he added his name to the national kidney-transplant list in April, with his turn expected to come up in perhaps 21⁄2 to three years.

With time of the essence, he’s exploring other ways to land a kidney.

“My faith is telling me I will receive one in the next year or year and a half,” Jamison said. “I think I’ll get one finding the right person, and everything will line up. My faith will get me through this. Everything happens in God’s own time, not in my time. I’m just waiting.”

Anybody who happens to have Jamison’s O-negative blood type (O-positive can also be used), could possibly be eligible to donate a kidney to Jamison. Since he explained his medical situation to friends and family on his Facebook page on Dec. 30, several folks have inquired.

“I’ve had five to six people say they have the right blood type. It’s a matter of taking the next step,” Jamison said. “First you have to have the right blood type. Once that happens, we take the next step of making sure it’s something you want to do. Then if that’s what you want to do, I get you in contact with the KU Med Center (for testing).

“That is the whole thing, go through the process. That would take two months — to go through cardiac procedures and things of that nature to make sure a person is healthy enough to give a kidney. You don’t want to get a kidney and have that person have issues. The biggest thing is the person will be healthy enough with one kidney,” Jamison explained.

Jamison is appreciative of the individuals who have stepped forward so far.

“You have to be touched by that. It makes you not only thankful but makes you think about the lives that you touch,” Jamison said.

His wife, Colleen, an attorney in Topeka, is not a match for Alonzo’s blood type. However, she is undergoing testing to see if she can donate a kidney as part of a “paired donation” in which another couple’s kidney works for Alonzo, and his wife’s kidney works for that couple.

As this all plays out, former KU forward Calvin Thompson is planning fundraisers (silent auctions) for Jamison in Topeka and Overland Park in coming weeks. For information, check the Facebook pages of Jamison or Thompson. Or one can contact Jamison at the e-mail address

“The thing is, right now I feel 10 times better than I used to feel (before starting dialysis),” said Jamison, who is able to put in a full, five-day work week. However ... “one thing I think about, my wife and I used to take trips all the time. I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t. I can’t travel with my machine. It’s big enough where it’s too cumbersome moving it around left and right. If it’s a day trip, I’m all over that,” he added.

A day trip like an afternoon KU basketball game.

“It’s really exciting,” he said of the college season. “Think about it. The scary part is it (thrilling win over OU) was only the second game of conference.”

The man who played in a batch of huge games for KU and is still recognized when he does attend games stated, “I am more excited about that piece of paper I have, the diploma. That can get me a little farther than going to the Final Four or the national championship game. I think about those days fondly,” Jamison added of his Jayhawk years.


Steve Zimmerman 7 years ago

I'd say how about using's front page to 'silently' help the fundraising effort. I'm pretty sure lots of KU fans out there would love to help out. God bless you Mr. Jamison. Good luck and stay healthy in the meantime!

Joe Ross 7 years ago

Alonzo Jamison was a blue collar guy. I love the guy. Whether or not individuals go on to make the decision to be seriously considered as a transplant donor, one thing we can all do is to pray for Jamison and his family.

Michael Maris 7 years ago

Well said Joe. I truly loved watching Alonzo Jamison in his playing tenure with the Jayhawks.

Chris Bailey 7 years ago

I'm O positive and would be willing if I weren't diabetic myself. I think that automatically disqualifies me as a candidate. I know that kidneys are very resilient and with a transplant he could live a long and healthy life. I have a friend that had a pancreas and kidney transplant. They too were diabetic and now they are no longer diabetic. Pretty neat story. Good luck to you Alonzo!

Bert White 7 years ago

If I wasn't fairly sure my were shot myself I'd a gladly offered him one of mine... He's a great Jayhawk and hope all works out for him.

Michael Lorraine 7 years ago

I don't remember who said it but after play Arkansas' 40 minutes of hell defense someone on the KU squad said it was more like 40 minutes of heck.

Best of Luck Mr. Jamison.

Humpy Helsel 7 years ago

Prayers for you and your family, Alonzo. A reminder to all of us how fragile life is.

Harlan Hobbs 7 years ago

Great comments by all, and wonderful sentiments/offers too by Chris and Bert. Best wishes to both of you.

My wife lost her first husband at age 34 to complications from diabetes and long time kidney disease. She has tried to be a donor in the past, as recently as a couple of years ago. However, the circumstances never worked out. The last time was at age 68, and now she and I are just too old, I guess. Unfortunately, I am not a candidate either due to other health reasons, but we add our prayers for Alonzo and hope that a transplant opportunity arises in the very near future.

Rock Chalk!

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