Which Incurable Disease Is Suni Lee Going Through?

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AUBURN, AL – JANUARY 20: Sunisa Lee of Auburn waits to compete on the uneven bars during a meet against Arkansas at Neville Arena on January 20, 2023 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Stew Milne/Getty Images)
The 2024 gymnastics season is on the brink of commencement for numerous elite American gymnasts. Among the contenders gearing up for the 2024 Winter Cup is Olympic champion Suni Lee. Sunisa made headlines during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics when she stepped in admirably for Simone Biles, who withdrew from the team final, guiding Team USA to a silver Olympic team medal. Suni then went on to clinch the all-around gold medal, becoming the first Asian American woman ever to do so.
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Her anticipated return in 2024 follows months of absence from competitions due to a kidney-related illness. As fans eagerly await her comeback, let’s delve into the details of the ailment that sidelined her for much of 2023.
The incurable kidney disease of Suni Lee
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In an interview with SELF, Suni Lee opened up about her kidney disease, which began in February 2023. It started when she woke up with swollen ankles, which quickly progressed to swelling throughout her entire body. Initially, Suni Lee and her coach suspected it might be an allergic reaction. However, Lee shared, “I just kept getting more swollen…and I think I gained, like, 40 pounds.” This then began to affect her training, as she mentioned, “My fingers were so swollen, and I couldn’t even do a normal kip cast to handstand on bars.” When the swelling persisted and worsened, they sought medical attention.
via Getty AUBURN, AL – JANUARY 20: Sunisa Lee of Auburn warms up prior to a meet against Arkansas at Neville Arena on January 20, 2023 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Stew Milne/Getty Images)
Despite multiple tests, her doctors were initially unable to pinpoint the cause of her symptoms. Eventually, Suni underwent a series of tests, including a biopsy, which led to a diagnosis related to her kidneys. While the specific name of her kidney condition was not disclosed to the public, it was described as uncommon and without a cure at the time. The condition affects the filtering function of the kidneys, leading to symptoms such as swelling, fatigue, and changes in urine output, according to SELF. So how has Sunisa Lee been managing her health since the diagnosis?
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How has she been taking care of her health while training?
Suni Lee has revealed how she faced the challenge of coming to terms with her kidney issues and the impact it had on her athletic career. She now regularly consults with her kidney specialist and USA Gymnastics physicians to monitor her symptoms, vitals, and lab work. She follows a treatment plan that includes medication, hydration management, and dietary adjustments to support kidney function and manage symptoms.
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Recognizing that her body may not function as it used to, Suni Lee and her coaches have adapted her training regimen to accommodate her health condition. Lee remains optimistic, and she approaches the Olympic year focusing on her health and mental resilience. She ended her interview with SELF stating, “I know gymnastics is not my whole life, and it’s not going to be my whole life, but for right now, it is my life.” What do you think of her comeback? Comment below!
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