Rugby fans the world over are mourning the untimely death of one of the greatest players of all time, a man known for his vigorous, sometimes brutal game on the field and who, tragically, suffered a rare disease in private.
All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu has lost his battle with Nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease. He was only 40 years old.
His condition forced him to retire from rugby in 2002, he had a kidney transplant in 2004, but then his body rejected the kidney in 2011. Mr Lomu was on dialysis treatment for 10 years.
Since 2011 Lomu was desperately hoping for the chance of a second transplant.
‘You have to try and stay up and be happy and positive about it,’ says Lomu. ‘Because I will tell you one thing: it does get you down at times. It’s difficult. Every dialysis patient is different but we have one commonality: we have no other choice. Your second choice isn’t really a choice. It’s just you giving up.’
The Guardian reports New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said, “We’re all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu.
“Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world. We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family.”
Heartbreakingly, in August this year, Mr Lomu told The Daily Mail that his only wish was to see his sons, five and eight, turn 21.
‘My goal is to make it to the boys’ 21sts,’ says Lomu. ‘There are no guarantees that will happen, but it’s my focus. It’s a milestone that every parent wants to get to. My dad died young and that makes you think. I want my boys to be healthy and if they get to 21, they should be fit and healthy and live a normal life.’
What are your memories of the “gentle giant” of rugby? Join us in offering our condolences to the Lomu family.