Former Tongan rugby rep Sione Vaiomounga has received a kidney transplant after his story sparked an astonishing crowdfunding campaign.

Vaiomounga was diagnosed with kidney failure soon after signing a deal to play for Romanian club Maia Mare in 2014, and dialysis became critical to his survival.

However, the treatment was not available in his native Tonga, and with an expiring Romanian work visa and denied access to New Zealand medical facilities, Vaiomounga faced his "death sentence".

His desperate situation took an incredible turn after his astonishing story went viral, helping a crowdfunding effort raise more than £30,000 in less than a week.


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Director of the Pacific Rugby Welfare, Daniel Leo, said the funds have made so many more options available and he was now "confident there would be awesome outcome".

Read more: Tongan rugby player stranded in Romania denied access to New Zealand

"The story going viral opened up so many more opportunities," Leo told the Herald.

"We raised the funds and we then went over there to put some basic steps in place for him and his family."

Sione Vaiomounga played for Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Getty
Sione Vaiomounga played for Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Getty

Leo told the Herald that the funds meant Vaiomounga and his family could afford applications for Romanian citizenship and to screen potential kidney donor's for a transplant operation.

"We've had lots of people put their foot forward in terms of donating a kidney for Sione," said Leo.

"We're actually in the process of screening some of those volunteers at the moment, and the great thing is we've actually got the funds now to be able to get the tests done and to possibly fly them over for the transplant operation."


"The family's goal for now is to secure their status and residency in Romania ... we're quite confident that he'll get his residency, it's just a matter of going through the application process."

Leo recently visited the flanker in Baia Mare and said despite the situation, Vaiomounga and his family were happy and was confident that once a donor was found they could return home to Tonga.

In an interview with the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, Vaiomounga said he was "beyond words".

"When I saw some people share the love with our poor family, there's nothing I can say, just thank you and I hope I can repay them back sometime."

"I know only because of love they do that."