Wales

Rugby stars support Taulupe Faletau's fundraiser for ill cousin

Toby Faletau and Amanaki Image copyright Gofundme/ Toby Faletau
Image caption Taulupe Faletau and his cousin Amanaki

Rugby players have rallied behind Wales star Taulupe Faletau as he aims to raise £50,000 for his cousin's life-saving treatment.

The forward's cousin Amanaki, 21, suffered kidney failure in 2015 and is undergoing dialysis in New Zealand.

But because he is from Tonga and not a New Zealand resident, it costs £3,100 (NZ$6,000) a month for treatment.

Faletau wants to raise the sum as he fears his cousin could be deported and would die without dialysis.

Amanaki is in debt to a health board and has been advised to pay off a lump sum while his application to become a permanent New Zealand resident is being processed.

If that is granted treatment would become free and he could be placed on a waiting list for a kidney donor.

British & Irish Lions star Faletau has donated £5,000 to an overall total of £13,500.

Others to donate include England prop Mako Vunipola, who grew-up with the Wales back row in Pontypool, Welsh internationals Cory Hill and Hallam Amos, and Faletau's Bath teammates Anthony Watson and Charlie Ewels.

Image copyright Gofundme/ Toby Faletau
Image caption Amanaki's mother Lia has made and sold Tongan handicrafts to help raise funds

Tonga-born Faletau explained the country does not have a dialysis centre because the cost of maintaining it would be 20% of the South Pacific nation's health budget, with 1% of its 108,000 residents benefitting from it.

"While this is understandable it is heartbreaking for the 1% who desperately need treatment," he said on a Gofundme page.

"Without dialysis a kidney failure patient would likely die within a few weeks."

Amanaki was diagnosed in October 2015 and moved to New Zealand that month, leaving his father and other family behind.

"Being in NZ and receiving dialysis is his only hope of survival and without it, [he] wouldn't be here today," Faletau added.

"As a family and a community we have raised some funds to help with this over the last three years but most of his treatment has been at the mercy of the health board and he has now become in debt with them."

Image copyright Gofundme/ Toby Faletau
Image caption Amanaki has been away from his family for three years while he has received treatment in New Zealand

While Amanaki waits for his residency application, medical costs keep rising and he has been advised he should pay a lump sum off the NZ $100,000 (£50,000) debt before his visa application is processed.

"To say the least it has been a very hard, sometimes helpless three years for Amanaki and his mother Lia who have been separated from the rest of their family who are still in Tonga, trying to deal with mounting debt and worrying about the status of their application," Faletau added.

"If their application is denied and Amanaki is deported to Tonga it would be less than a matter of weeks before his illness took his life."

Amanaki's mother makes Tongan handicrafts to raise funds while family and friends have helped, but his medical bills are rising higher and higher.

Faletau said they were hopeful if half the NZ$ 100,000 debt could be raised, his visa application could be accepted.

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