Alonzo Mourning Charities (AM Charities) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) public fundraising foundation.

AM Charities' mission is to encourage the educational development of our youth by creating programs and youth enrichment centers that promote positive change in low socioeconomic communities.

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GIVE OMAR LIFE.

Zo’s Fund for Life Continues Fundraising for 3-Year-Old who Receives Liver Transplant


Omar Ferguson in Critical Care after Receiving Liver Transplant


MIAMI, FL (December 23, 2008) – Alonzo Mourning, NBA All-Star and Founder of Zo’s Fund For Life, an organization Mourning launched shortly after he learned he would need an organ transplant, has been leading a campaign to quickly raise funds for a three-year-old boy named Omar Ferguson who was in desperate need of a liver transplant. Omar’s health began deteriorating rapidly a couple weeks ago and he was put on life support with only one effective treatment option: a liver transplant.


Zo’s Fund for Life raised the initial funds needed in order to place Omar on the transplant waiting list and doctors at the Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center campus in Miami, Florida quickly moved Omar to priority status. A donor liver became available on Saturday, December 13, 2008 and was flown in from California to Miami where doctors immediately performed a successful transplantation on little Omar who was clinging to life.

Just a week and a half since the transplant surgery, Omar remains in intensive care and is being closely monitored by the pediatric transplant team. “The new liver is functioning well and has allowed Omar to be disconnected from life support and the hemodialysis machine,” said Andreas G. Tzakis, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Liver/GI Transplant Surgery, Director of the Miami Transplant Institute, and Professor of Surgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital and Miami Transplant Institute. “He is still in critical condition but is making a very steady progress, breathing and eating on his own well. We expect to be able to move him to a regular room at some point next week.”

The race to “Give Omar Life,” a campaign initiated by Zo’s Fund for Life who recognized the importance of giving Omar the chance to live, is not over yet. Omar will need ongoing post-transplant care and several immunosuppressant medications to help fight against organ rejection in addition to the current transplant-related expenses, which are all a part of the overall $300,000 goal to be raised. Omar’s mother took a leap of faith when she left their hometown in the Bahamas, whose hospital did not have adequate medical facilities to perform the necessary transplant, and came to the U.S. without health insurance.

Zo’s Fund for Life has donated $50,000 of the $300,000 needed to “Give Omar Life” and has raised a total of $152,460 to date. Donations have been streaming in from all over the country but there is still $147,540 to be raised. Zo’s Fund for Life continues to call on the public’s support in order to meet the goal needed for the entire cost of the transplant as well as post-transplant related medical expenses.

“It’s because of the support and heartfelt gratitude from folks in our community and around the nation that Omar received the greatest gift of all this holiday season: a chance at life,” said Mourning. “We’re more than halfway to reaching our goal and need your help to successfully get there by the end of this holiday season.”

In the spirit and season of giving, Mourning is urging the public to contribute to the “Give Omar Life” fund as soon as possible. Donations are tax-deductible and accepted by:

Debit or credit card via PayPal at HYPERLINK "http://www.ZosFundForLife.org/Omar" www.ZosFundForLife.org/Omar or by calling 1-888-520-ZFFL (9335).

Mail a check payable to Zo’s Fund For Life (reference: Omar) at Zo’s Fund for Life, PO Box 330110, Miami, FL 33233.

Drop off cash or overnight/courier a check to Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc., c/o Zo's Fund For Life, 2901 Florida Avenue, Suite 806, Coconut Grove, Florida 33133.

Wire transfer to Zo's Fund for Life, Regions Bank, 2800 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL, Account #: 9660220568, ABA/Routing #: 062000019.

Omar has been lying in a hospital bed for most of this holiday season at the Holtz Children’s Hospital at UM/Jackson. He was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a rare condition he acquired as a newborn in which the bile duct between the liver and small intestine is blocked or absent. Most patients with this diagnosis will undergo a procedure as infants to remove the atretic biliary ducts outside the liver and attach the small intestine directly to the liver at the spot where bile is found or expected to drain in an effort to re-establish bile flow. If this procedure is done before two months of age, success is likely.

Omar was not fortunate enough to have received this procedure as an infant and as a result the blocked bile flow caused severe liver cirrhosis which has led to liver failure. He was in end-stage cirrhosis experiencing complications including life-threatening intestinal bleeding, fluid retention in the abdomen (ascites), and abnormal blood ammonia levels which, if left untreated, could have resulted in coma. The only effective treatment option for Omar to survive was a liver transplant.

For more information, visit www.ZosFundForLife.org.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY. JOIN ZO'S FUND FOR LIFE AND GIVE OMAR LIFE.