Rugby World Cup 2011

Sickly Lomu may sell story

2011-09-29 07:33
Jonah Lomu (File)

Auckland - Ailing All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu's family has requested an information blackout on his latest health scare and may have sold his story to a magazine, the hospital caring for him said on Thursday.

Lomu, who suffers from kidney problems, was admitted to Auckland Hospital last week suffering from an undisclosed illness.

Since then, he has received emotional messages of support from New Zealand's Rugby World Cup squad and Prime Minister John Key amid speculation about his health fuelled by the hospital's refusal to release details of his condition.

The Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), which runs the hospital, released a statement saying Lomu's family had asked it to "not release any information whatsoever about Jonah's care".

"We have respected their wishes at all times and continue to do so," it said. "The same courtesy would be extended to any of our patients."

However, the health authority added: "ADHB has become aware of the possibility of an exclusive agreement with a magazine. ADHB has had no involvement in any agreement whatsoever."

It said it had acted in good faith to the many media enquiries it had received about Lomu's wellbeing.

Lomu, 36, is widely regarded as rugby union's first global superstar, lighting up the 1995 and 1999 World Cups with his devastating displays on the wing.

But his playing career was cut short by the rare kidney disorder nephrotic syndrome, which causes fatigue, weakness and kidney failure over the long term.

He underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, receiving an organ donated by New Zealand radio announcer Grant Kereama.

Lomu was heavily involved in promoting this year's World Cup in New Zealand as a rugby "ambassador" and had a cameo role in the opening ceremony on September 9, appearing as hero for younger players just starting in the sport.

Many of the current crop of All Blacks look up to him, with players and New Zealand Rugby Union staff gathering after team training in Wellington on Wednesday to hold up letters reading "Get Well Jonah - Kia Kaha (Be Strong)".

"It's sad to see a man like that the way he is at the moment, so we're really hoping for him to get well quickly," hooker Keven Mealamu told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he had no information on Lomu's condition.

Key also sent his best wishes earlier this week and said he was considering visiting Lomu in hospital.

The ADHB could not be contacted for comment, although the news website said it was directing all queries to a women's magazine "because they're the only ones allowed to know about his condition".


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