Father breaks down on The AM Show explaining how grateful he is for son sacrificing rugby career to donate kidney

A father with kidney disease has broken down explaining how grateful he is to his son for donating him his organ.

For the last seven years, 59-year-old Evan Smith has had to hook himself up to a dialysis machine every second night to clean his blood through a process called haemodialysis. He's struggled for years to find a match for a transplant, making it difficult to stay away from home for more than a day.

But that will come to an end in November. 

Vyron, Evan's son and a young rugby player who played with North Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup and moved to Sydney with the dream of eventually signing with the New South Wales Waratahs, has returned to New Zealand to donate his kidney.

It means no more contact sport, but Vyron told The AM Show on Wednesday that it wasn't a hard decision to make. 

"Nah to be honest, it wasn't, I mean, a couple of years ago we did try to get on the deceased donor list and we didn't quite meet the criteria," he said. "For me, this is going to be amazing. I'm so excited and I'm just grateful that I can do that for him."

"I've always put health at the top of my list. I've always tried to look after myself so I can be in that sort of position to help others and I'm just so grateful that I have passed all the tests and I am a good match for my dad. He's the man. He and my mum have sacrificed so much to help our whanau grow up and I am just so glad I can be there for them."

Evan said Vyron, who is a personal trainer, has been helping him lose weight ahead of the operation.

"I'm so proud of him. We've got five sons, and they are all pretty good, but Vyron has really stepped up. He's really pushed us. We didn't ask him," Evan said.

Having the new kidney could extend his life by up to 20 years, the father told The AM Show. 

"Well when you're on dialysis, they only give you five years and I have been on dialysis for seven years now. I know people who have been on it a little longer. It will give me a new lease on life."

By the end of the year, Evan will have 15 grandchildren and it's his wish to spend more time with them and his wife. 

"It's going to be amazing. It's life-changing. I am so grateful. I don't want to get emotional."

When asked how he wanted to repay his son, Evan broke down. 

"I don't know really how I can… When he does have children, to add to those 15, I'll be there."

Vyron replied: "You don't need to, you've already done it".

"I just want to spend time with [my parents]. I want you to just experience life," the son said.

"These last seven years have obviously been tough on him and mum. I just can't for him to be able to be healthy and not have to spend every second night at home and have to hook up to a machine.

"It's hard to see. I just want him to take this second chance to focus on his health. For us to be able to go and walk together, for us to be able to walk up our mountain back home at Mount Maunganui."

Vyron said his father is "good to go" for the November transplant.

"He is moving really well and I'm really proud of what he's been doing, so he's been looking after himself, which is good."

Evan also had a message to other families, particularly Māori, dealing with someone with kidney disease. 

"That was the big shock for me, when I went to dialysis and the hospital was mostly Māori men my age and younger that were sitting there on dialysis machines. So, you know, get out there and if you've got a family member that needs a kidney, donate."

Ahead of the operation, Vyron will run 75km from Bowentown to Mount Maunganui to raise awareness about kidney disease. He is also raising money for Kidney Health New Zealand and to develop awareness about the illness in schools. So far, $11,042 has been donated

According to Kidney Health New Zealand, about one in ten Kiwis have undiagnosed kidney disease. Eight people will start dialysis every week, but only roughly 170 people will receive a kidney transplant each year. 

Symptoms of kidney disease include discomfort when passing urine, blood in urine, pain in the loin, lethargy and shortness of breath.