New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu has died at age 40. The international rugby star died suddenly of a heart attack while waiting for a second kidney transplant.
The Daily Mail is reporting that there are many heavy hearts in the world of rugby with the untimely loss of Lomu.
“It is with great sadness that I must announce my dear husband Jonah Lomu died last night,” the statement read. “As you can imagine this is a devastating loss for our family and may I ask that our privacy, especially the privacy of our two very young boys, be respected as we take them through this traumatic time,” Mrs. Lomu said.
Lomu is being called the first “global rugby superstar.” The All Blacks giant winger was famous for barnstorming runs which terrified small defenders universally.
And words of praise and condolence came out from teams everywhere, including the U.K. and Dubai.
Former England captain Mike Tindall said: “He was to me the guy who changed the sport forever, an unbelievable machine on the pitch and a superb guy off it, the guy who could dominate whatever era of rugby history he was put in.”
New Zealand prime minister John Key was also quick to pay tribute to Auckland-born Lomu. Key tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear of Jonah Lomu’s unexpected passing this morning. The thoughts of the entire country are with his family.”
The Guardian says that even though Lomu had a kidney transplant in 2004, the kidney failed in 2011, and he was on the list, waiting for a new one.
“Lomu revealed in 1995 that he had been diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome and in 2004 underwent a kidney transplant to improve his quality of life. He managed to continue to play rugby throughout his illness, though he occasionally took time off for treatment.”
About 25 percent of nephrotic syndrome sufferers can attribute their condition to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which is scar tissue in the filtering unit of each kidney, called the glomerulus. The cause is unknown, but it can stem from infection, diabetes, or sickle cell disease.
In 2013, Lomu revealed he almost died after the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when he found out 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 wrote in an updated version of his autobiography, Jonah: My Story.
“Over the next few hours I got worse. I couldn’t keep anything down.”
Lomu revealed that his father had died young, and he feared that he would never get to see his sons turn 21.
Stuff New Zealand believes that Lomu’s sudden heart attack was directly due to his kidney disorder.
“Lomu, aged 40, collapsed and died at his Auckland home early on Wednesday morning after returning from Dubai on Tuesday, where he had been holidaying after being at the Rugby World Cup in Britain.”
The All Blacks doctor John Mayhew reported that Lomu collapsed at home, and was unable to be resuscitated. Mathew said he was shocked because the rugby star had been doing so well in the period of time prior to his collapse.
Fans worldwide are paying tribute, but at this time, the family is mourning privately.
Are you a rugby fan? Have you ever seen Lomu play rugby?
[Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images]