Ailing Tongan player Sione Vaiomounga is set to be given the gift of life – and also potentially a lifeline to stay in his adopted home of Romania.

Vaimounga – who played for Tonga at the 2011 Rugby World Cup – has been battling kidney failure and needs a transplant. While he battles ill health he has also been locked in a battle to gain a visa extension to which would enable him to stay in Romania for the care he needs.

His plight went global late last year, with a fundraiser set up by Pacific Rugby Player Welfare raising more than $30,000 for him and his family.

Stories highlighting his battle had also prompted potential donors from around the world to offer to give him a kidney. Three times he has received a call from a hospital in Cluj-Napoca - but each time there has been no match, until now.


Talking to the Herald on Sunday from his home in Romania, the flanker revealed a likely match had been found from a woman in Australia.

"My blood type is very rare A+," he said.

"In Europe it's been hard to find a donor but there is a woman in Australia who might be the perfect match."

Vaiomounga signed a contract with Romanian club Baia Mare rugby club in 2014, before being diagnosed with kidney failure.

He said he had been thrilled to secure the professional contract with the club, which is based in northern Romania.

"Of course I went there for financial reasons," he said.

"The club paid for me to live in a hotel for a year. I had free food and I was paid $600 Euros a month - which was a good start for me ."

Sione Vaiomounga with Sara Vaiomounga, Jesyda 3 and 6 month old Sione Daniel Nuku junior. Photo / Supplied
Sione Vaiomounga with Sara Vaiomounga, Jesyda 3 and 6 month old Sione Daniel Nuku junior. Photo / Supplied

The bulk of his wages was sent to his wife Sara and parents who live in Matahau, a small village in Hihifo Tongatapu.

Vaiomounga's first season went well but the night before a knockout club clash he suffered a nose bleed which wouldn't stop.

The father-of-two was hospitalised for three months. He was diagnosed with a kidney disorder and his rugby career was over.

Vaiomounga had lived on his own for two years. After his diagnosis, Sara and their eldest son Jesyda, three, relocated to Romania to be closer to him.

"We came here to be together as a family. We weren't going to stay but Sione's condition got worse" Sara said.

The childhood sweethearts got married on October 22, 2016 and had their second son Sione Daniel Nuku junior, who is six-months-old.

Sione struggled to find work after his rugby career ended.

He needs dialysis three nights a week between 9pm and 2am which leaves him too exhausted to do anything.

Sione is unable to return to Tonga because they don't have the medical equipment he needs.

"We have to stay in Romania because if we go back to Tonga, Sione would die. He is a hell of a strong man with great endurance" said Sara.

His former rugby club in Romania has severed its ties with the former Tongan international after initially supporting him.

"I feel sad but know it's business too," he said. "It was my decision to go to Romania and I am glad the club gave me an opportunity."

The family of four relies on financial handouts from Sione's younger brother, and generosity from members of the Jehovahs' Witness church.

"They are very kind, they give us clothing and food," said Sara.

They have also been touched by the generosity of people around the world who had donated to an online appeal. The money raised was used to process the family's visa applications, which can be expensive and time consuming.

Ideally, the family wanted visas for New Zealand and the United States where they have family but the processes are long and complicated.

The family is now hoping they will soon be able to secure Romanian visas, which will allow Sione to get the care he needs in Romania and allow Sara to work.

"The language is a real difficulty but we love the people here- they have shown us kindness and hospitality," she said.

Sione desperately misses his family and friends.

"My family rarely visit because it's expensive and far away. Everything here is different. I miss my Tongan food and the beach. Today it's minus 12," he said.

But what Sione really wants is to get well and to get a job.

"It has been hard but I feel blessed my wee family is with me- that's what matters. I won't play rugby again but maybe I can become a cleaner."