New Zealand great Jonah Lomu said Monday that medical tests had confirmed a donated kidney he received eight years ago had failed and he needs a new transplant.
The former All Blacks wing said he had lost 30 kilograms (66 pounds) since his long-standing health problems re-emerged last September, telling the New Zealand Women's Weekly "everybody has to die sometime".
"Unfortunately none of the treatment has worked, my kidney is exactly the same as it was when I first got sick," Lomu said, revealing he needs dialysis three times a week to keep his renal system functioning.
Lomu was diagnosed in 1995 with the rare kidney disorder nephrotic syndrome and underwent a transplant in 2004, receiving an organ donated by friend and New Zealand radio broadcaster Grant Kereama.
The 36-year-old spent 16 days in Auckland Hospital last year after returning to New Zealand from his home in France to star in the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony at Eden Park.
Lomu, who remains in his homeland receiving treatment, said the search was on for a new kidney donor but a second transplant would be far more complicated than the first.
"I know I was fortunate to get the first transplant but there are more difficulties this time around," he said.
"The match will be harder and the process of finding a suitable donor is difficult. The chances of my body rejecting this kidney are higher too."
Lomu said he was staying positive by exercising to ensure he is in good shape "in case everything goes pear-shaped" and playing with this sons Brayley and Dhyreille.
Regarded as rugby union's first global superstar, Lomu rose to prominence with his devastating performances in the 1995 World Cup and also played a major part in New Zealand's 1999 campaign.
He still holds the record for most tries at the World Cup, with 15 in total, and scored 37 tries in 63 Tests for New Zealand before illness eventually cut short his playing career.
"I'm really lucky, I've already lived more in one lifetime than many would in six or seven lifetimes," he said.
"The thing about being human is that everybody has to die sometime. For me, the important thing is to ask 'can you look in the mirror and say you done everything to enjoy life?'."