Tonga sought support from Romanian government for sick rugby player

Tonga’s Ministry of Health has been seeking support from the Romanian government for Tongan rugby player Sione Vaiomo’unga, who underwent an emergency kidney transplant on Wednesday.

Pacific Rugby Players Welfare said the former Ikale Tahi player was recovering well from the transplant and thanked everyone who had supported him.

Vaiomo’unga had been on dialysis after being diagnosed three years ago.

The Ministry sought assurances from Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor late last year, explaining that dialysis was not available in Tonga.

Tonga’s Minister for Health, Dr. Saia Piukala told the Romanian authorities that returning him to Tonga would be “a death sentence.”

Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Vaiomo’unga had been treated for free three times a week at his local hospital and had been financially supported by the Romanian government.

“He has been properly taken care of by the competent and dedicated local medical personnel of the county hospital. He currently lives together with his family in a friendly environment, being supported by his former rugby team players along with a sympathetic local community,” the Romanian Ministry said.

“The local authorities are doing their utmost to find a more suitable accommodation solution for the family in Baia Mare city.”

Vaiomo’unga’s visa and that of his family were set to expire early this year.

It is understood that he raised US$42,000 to help fund the transplant.

Vaiomo’unga played for Tonga at the 2011 Rugby World Cup before moving to Romania in 2014 to play for He was playing for CSM Stinta Baia Mare.

Meanwhile, as Kaniva News reported recently, talks are underway to allow Tongan overstayers who are on dialysis treatment in New Zealand to receive the same benefits as New Zealand citizens receiving the treatment.

A young Tongan man, Tamahanga Tukunga who has kidney failure, has been pleading to stay in New Zealand, knowing he will face a painful death if deported to Tonga.


Photo Twitter/Pacific Rugby Players Welfare. Caption: Tongan rugby player Sione Vaiomo’unga