by Adrienne Broaddus
Champion. A title Gene Okun relishes. Now, the man once-dubbed "Baby Arnold Schwarzenegger" holds a title he never wanted. Doctors believe Okun, a former powerlifter and bodybuilder, has the largest kidneys in the world...An average kidney is the size of your fist. Okun’s are bigger than a football. The same disease Okun lives with ended the life of his father, also named Gene. For years, Okun, 52, tried to rewrite his story. But Gene has a chance his father didn't. All thanks to his best friend, Bill McNeese. Most friends loan money and donate their time --- but an organ? In June, surgeons with the Mayo Clinic performed the lifesaving kidney transplant Gene needed.
Reach: KARE 11 is the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul and reaches more than 600,000 people each week in its coverage area. Its website has more than 1.5 million unique visitors each month.
Context: Gene Okun's kidneys have to go. They're big. They're dumb. (His words.) And they're ruining his life. He wakes up feeling sick. He can't find a seat in a restaurant or plane because he doesn't fit. Sleeping is a challenge. He can't eat much because there's no room in his insides. "My stomach's so big that it affects me physically in everything I do," Gene tells us. It's been this way since he was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. You cna read more about Gene's transplant journey in Mayo Clinic in the Loop.
Contacts: Ginger Plumbo, Heather Carlson
Tags: Gene Okun, KARE 11, polycystic kidney disease, Uncategorized