Tongan rugby star Sione Vaiomounga stranded in Romania

  • 20/12/2017
Sione Vaiomounga (Centre) playing for Tonga in 2011.
Sione Vaiomounga (Centre) playing for Tonga in 2011. Photo credit: Getty

A Tongan rugby star is stranded in Romania after he was struck down with kidney failure.

Sione Vaiomounga is a flanker who played for Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. He then moved to Europe to play professional rugby, in hope of a successful international career.

He signed with the local team in Baia Mare, in the far north of Romania and that is where he's been stuck for the last three years.

His first season was going well until the night before a semi-final match he got a nose bleed that wouldn't clot. He played the game but was taken to hospital straight after. He didn't leave for three months.

Much like the late, great, Jonah Lomu, Sione Vaiomounga had suffered kidney failure.

Reliant on the dialysis machine, Vaiomounga is unable to return to his home country of Tonga because they do not have the medical equipment he needs.

Three nights a week, Vaiomounga needs to be hooked up to a dialysis machine from 9pm to 2am. A process which leaves him so exhausted, he struggles to do anything the next day.

But in three months, his visa runs out and the future is uncertain for himself, his wife and their two children.

"It would be a death sentence if we are told to go back to Tonga," Sala told the Telegraph. "We hope this does not happen, but we just don't know. Not knowing is the worst thing."

In an ideal world, the family would like to gain visas for New Zealand or the United States where they have family. But the processes are long and complicated, only adding to the stress.

Of course a kidney transplant would be the other option, and three times Vaiomounga received a phone call from a nearby hospital but they have never matched his A+ blood type.

Despite the desperate situation, his family are trying to stay positive.

"As long as we are all together then we are happy," Vaiomounga said. "So many times I want them to go back, but she always says it is better when we are together and she is right."

The most realistic option is to apply for a new visa to stay in Romania, but there is no guarantee it will be granted.