New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu has revealed he nearly died after his body went into a “total meltdown” – just hours after he took part in the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Lomu suffers from the rare kidney disorder nephrotic syndrome, having been diagnosed with the condition in 1995 during his playing career. The international wing required a transplant in 2004, but having been the star of the opening ceremony when New Zealand welcomed the rugby world to its shores, Lomu began to feel ill shortly after.
"It started out as a wonderful evening, but as the night wore on I started to feel unwell. By the time I got home I was in a bad way," Lomu explained in his updated autobiography ‘Jonah: My Story’.
After vomiting, sweating and suffering from the shakes, Lomu was rushed to hospital where he had tests to confirm that the kidney he received in 2004 was failing.
"My bloodstream was septic and the doctors were starting to think the worst: that my kidney had failed and my body was in total meltdown," he said in extracts of the book published Tuesday.
"Over the next few hours I got worse. I couldn't keep anything down."
Lomu didn’t leave hospital for two weeks, and his doctor John Mayhew said it was touch and go for the man that tormented defences across the globe.
"For a while there Jonah was an extremely sick man," Mayhew said. "There was a distinct possibility he could have died as a result of serious renal failure."
The 38-year-old undergoes regular dialysis and is currently on the waiting list for a second kidney transplant.
The father of two is widely seen as the sport’s first global superstar, having burst on the scene at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and playing a pivotal role in the Kiwi’s 1999 campaign. His sheer size and power combined with a sub-11-second 100m was unseen before his arrival, and he is still regarded as one of the most talented players to have graced the game after his career was sadly cut short by the illness.
To this day, Lomu holds the record of the most tries scored in World Cups, having crossed the line 15 times on the grandest stage, and he has a total of 37 tries in 63 caps for New Zealand.
Lomu made a habit of scoring against England. See a selection of his tries from the 1995 Rugby World Cup below...