MINNEAPOLIS - The daughter of Minnesota basketball legend Kevin McHale died over the weekend, reportedly from complications related to lupus.
Alexandra "Sasha" McHale was just 23-years-old, and her death is leaving some people surprised at what can be the deadly nature of the condition.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where, the immune system, designed to protect against infection, actually creates antibodies that attack the body's own tissues and organs.
Problems can range from fatigue, joint pain and rash to kidney problems, heart disease or stroke.
Kevin McHale took a leave from the Houston Rockets a couple weeks ago to be with his hospitalized daughter Sasha who once played for Totino Grace High School.
It has not been reported exactly which complications of lupus took her life.
But most lupus sufferers are women, and mostly young women.
Dr. Barbara Segal, director of the Lupus Clinic at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) said while lupus has an 85 percent survival rate, it is still a life-threatening disease.
Segal said, "Really, deaths in lupus are uncommon. When they occur they are generally related to severe flares, in other words the disease itself attacking vital organs, or to infection."
Lupus is very complex, so effective treatment can be tough.
But Segal said researchers are on the threshold of breakthroughs in a number of areas.
To reach the Lupus Clinic at HCMC, call 612-873-6963.
The Lupus Foundation of Minnesota also has information on symptoms and other aspects of the disease.
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