Rugby World Cup Sevens

Close friend's kidney will save my life, says Lomu

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 12:00am

World rugby legend Jonah Lomu last night revealed a close friend had agreed to donate a kidney to save his life. And the former New Zealand All Black vowed he would play for his country again.

'I will be back,' the giant winger told the South China Morning Post last night before the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse First Boston Hong Kong Sevens kicked off.

'A close friend of mine has agreed to donate a kidney and I expect the operation to be done sometime this year. And if all goes well, I expect to be back playing rugby again. I want to play for the All Blacks again,' said Lomu, who was mobbed by fans before presenting the award to the winners of the Hong Kong Women's Sevens.

Lomu, in the city as an unofficial rugby ambassador, also said he wanted to play in Hong Kong again - having targeted next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens, which Hong Kong hosts for the second time.

'You never know, I might be back at next year's World Cup Sevens. Hong Kong made me a star and I will never forget that. It all started here, for me,' he said.

Lomu, 28, is suffering from nephritic syndrome, a serious kidney disease, and faces life in a wheelchair if he doesn't get a transplant. His treatment includes being hooked to a dialysis machine for eight hours a day.

A relative had offered him a kidney but that avenue was closed when it was discovered he was not a suitable donor.

'But this time the donor is a match,' Lomu said. 'We have already done tests ... and they have been successful. We are now waiting for a time slot. I expect the operation to take place some time this year. The surgeon has promised me that it will be a success.'

The explosive winger, who played 63 Tests for New Zealand, scoring 37 tries in an eight-year career, stepped down from the game a couple of seasons ago as a result of his debilitating disease.