San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliott was in stable condition today after undergoing a kidney transplant, receiving a healthy organ from his brother, Noel.
"The kidney's functioning well," said physician Francis Wright, who performed the transplant. "Sean had no problems at all and Noel had no problems."
Sean Elliott, 31, was in the intensive care unit, a routine step, and was expected to move to a regular room Tuesday barring any complications, Wright said at a post-surgery news conference at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio. He could be released next week.
"Everything went just fine," Wright said. "He's beginning to be more alert as the anesthesia wears off."
Doctors did not remove either of Sean's diseased kidneys, Wright said.
Noel Elliott, 32, was in a regular recovery room, Wright said. Urologist Sammy Vick, who removed Noel's left kidney, said he may be able to go home in three to five days.
Wright said Noel matched five of the six antigen markers.
"It should be an extremely good transplant for Sean," Wright said. "His brother is a better-than-average match. That bodes well, in particular, for the long-term results of the transplant."
Doctors have said it will take two to three months before they'll know whether Elliott could try to continue to play basketball, but he has said he hopes to return to the game.
Wright said he wouldn't rule it out, although he noted Elliott will be on medication the rest of his life.
"It's clearly unprecedented, but he's a very motivated individual," he said. "I'm certainly not going to be the one who tells him he can't play again."
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said Elliott's possible return isn't uppermost in his teammates' minds at the moment.
"None of us [cares] about basketball right now," Popovich said. "If he never played another game, as long as he had his health and the rest of his life, that would be fine. We go forward as if he's not going to be playing for us."
Beginning about 8 a.m. today, a surgical team began removing one of Noel's kidneys and preparing Sean to receive it, said hospital spokeswoman Palmira Arellano.
Elliott needed a transplant because of a condition that slows the kidneys, preventing them from properly filtering waste from the blood. The cause of the disease -- focal segmental glomerular sclerosis -- is not clear.
In a statement released Monday morning by the hospital, Noel said: "I am both honored and glad that I can be here for my brother in his time of need. . . . My brother has always been there for me and I will always be here for him. The Lord is with us."
Elliott announced last month, a few weeks after the Spurs won the NBA championship, that he was in need of a transplant. He had known for more than a year he would probably need a transplant, but with about a month left in the regular season, he was told it was a necessity.
He has had kidney problems since June 1993, when a kidney infection was diagnosed while Elliott was with the Detroit Pistons. A trade to the Houston Rockets in 1994 fell through because of a failed physical stemming from the kidney problem.
Elliott received extra medical attention before games throughout the Spurs' championship run, but he hid his condition from most of his teammates. He averaged 11.9 points in the playoffs as the Spurs won their first NBA championship by defeating the New York Knicks in the finals.
Elliott's relatives underwent blood screening in late July to see if they could be donors. Had there not been a family match, Elliott would have been placed on a transplant waiting list.
An estimated 62,000 Americans are awaiting a heart, lung, liver, kidney or pancreas.