Could Lamar Odom Need a Kidney Transplant?

by Alex Ungerman 2:24 PM PDT, October 20, 2015
Playing Could Lamar Odom Need a Kidney Transplant?

Lamar Odom's recovery continues in Los Angeles, where his aunt, JaNean Mercer, tells ET he's been able to "take a few steps." The former NBA star was moved from Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas to L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Monday, after being found unconscious last week at the Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada.

"As Lamar begins a new chapter in his road to recovery, PLEASE continue to uplift him and the family in prayer," the family said in a statement to ET on Tuesday. "He continues to make miraculous progress, taking a few steps in Los Angeles. We couldn't be more overjoyed! We realize Lamar's continued improvement will not be easy, however his unrelenting strength and faith in GOD will pull him through."

However, despite the progress Odom has made, his kidneys remain under a lot of strain as he continues dialysis.

WATCH: Lamar Odom Continues 'Miraculous' Recovery in Los Angeles

"Dialysis helps when the accumulation of toxic waste and excess water is life threatening," Dr. Victor Gura, Kidney Specialist and Attending Physician at Cedars Sinai, told ET on Tuesday. "If the kidneys are not excreting these substances because they were injured and not functioning, then they are not making urine to get rid of toxins, excess salt and water and these have to be removed using dialysis with an artificial kidney."

Gura notes that oftentimes patients experience a better quality of life and sometimes even an increased life span after choosing a kidney transplant over dialysis.

WATCH: Khloe Kardashian Breaks Silence About Lamar Odom's Recovery: 'God Is Great!'

"Kidney transplants work better than dialysis because patients live better and longer," he explains. "If we determine that the kidneys will not recover, then a kidney transplant is a better alternative than long term dialysis for the patient."

However, the procedure is not without risk, particularly for Odom, who is alleged to have been using illegal drugs before his hospitalization last week.

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Gura says that while "pro athlete’s would have a very good chance of survival and recovery of kidney function," without addressing Odom's case specifically, in general, "some illegal drugs can cause kidney failure and even end stage kidney failure requiring dialysis and or transplant."

"Drug use would definitely compromise his chance of a successful kidney transplant" says Gura, pointing out that a patient's chance of survival "depends on many other factors that may or may not be happening in his case such as hypertension, diabetes, drug use, genetics and others."

WATCH: Lamar Odom's Aunt Says He's 'Defying the Odds' and 'Getting Stronger' Every Day

Furthermore, the list to procure a kidney transplant is discouragingly long.

"A kidney transplant is VERY difficult to get," says Gura. "Many patients waiting for a transplant may pass without ever getting one."

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Getting to the top of the list is based on "mostly the length of time waiting for the transplant," Gura says, noting that patients who have used illegal narcotics don't gain any edge in that process.

"We don’t look favorably at drug abusers for transplants," he adds.

The exception, of course, would be if a suitable donor offered to give his or her kidney to Odom specifically.

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"If a specific patient has a willing and adequate donor that will donate a kidney designated for that specific patient, then a kidney transplant can be done fairly quickly if the patient and the donor are considered appropriate by the nephrologists and their team," Gura reveals.

Odom is still considered to be in critical condition. Despite a report that the basketball player was helped out of his hospital bed and was assisted in moving to a chair, a source close to the family tells ET he did not leave his hospital bed, but did get up. However, he's "still very weak."

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"Lamar has always been blessed with a tenacious, fighting spirit, overcoming insurmountable obstacles to achieve the impossible," Mercer told ET on Monday. "These past few days have been no different. He is defying the odds in his toughest battle to date with God's grace."

Watch below for an update on Odom's ongoing recovery.