Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Lomu fighting - just not in the ring

Jonah Lomu says he wakes every morning grateful that he can see his family. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Jonah Lomu says he wakes every morning grateful that he can see his family. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Rugby legend Jonah Lomu, who is battling kidney disease, is thankful his health has improved to the point he is no longer "knocking on death's door".

Yesterday, Lomu attended a publicity launch for the Fight for Life fundraiser, in which he was due to box before he was rushed to Auckland City Hospital's emergency room on September 23. The 36-year-old is on dialysis and the future of his transplanted kidney appears bleak.

"[My health] is stable at the moment, so I can't argue with that," he said. "It's a lot better than the first night I got admitted. When you're knocking on death's door, it sort of says to you, 'You need to sort this out.'

"But the thing is, I've been there before, and I've just got to get through this part, and hopefully it comes right. And if it doesn't, I just have to go through the process again."

Lomu will now act as an ambassador for Fight for Life, and admitted it was disappointing not to be able to take part in the December 3 event after getting himself into shape to box.

"But this had nothing to do with training or anything like that. It was just the luck of the draw - the kidney just fell asleep. And we've just got to try and wake it up again, and see what happens."

The former All Black attended yesterday's launch with his wife, Nadene, and two young sons.

"Life goes on, and the thing is, you realise life is really short on this planet. And anything can happen between now and tomorrow.

"I can be thankful that I wake up every morning and see my wife and my two kids. For me, that's a huge, huge plus - to still be around, walking around, and be able to spend time with my boys."

The headline matchup for the Fight for Life will now be between Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Shane Cameron and former Warrior Monty Betham.

Fight for Life will raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and Lomu said he was well placed to be an ambassador for men's health.

"The event's huge. It's bringing awareness to something that males really just don't want to talk about. But at the same time, it [a prostate test] is something they just don't want to do either. Now just a simple blood test can actually help you out in that area."

Lomu was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome in 1995, and after a long period of dialysis, he received a kidney from ZM radio host Grant Kereama in 2004.

Yesterday, he said public support had helped keep his spirits up during tough times - and he only wished he could respond with news that was more definite.

"The doctors are still working through it, and once we have a gameplan and know where we are, we'll let everyone know."

- NZ Herald

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