The Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald has revealed he will undergo a kidney transplant next month, having spent his playing career managing chronic kidney disease.
McDonald, who is 32, was first diagnosed at the age of 18 and has managed his condition during a playing career that has included 500 appearances for Dundee, Burnley, Sheffield United and Wolves. McDonald joined Fulham in 2016 and collected the first of five international caps for Scotland in 2018.
“I’ve been fighting a chronic kidney disease, or kidney failure ever since I started playing football,” McDonald told FFCtv. “I’ve had it my whole career and been under the orders of the doctors throughout my whole career. No one sees this part of football. People just see you on the pitch and they have their opinions of you and that’s that.
“I’ve had a lot of people asking about why am I not playing, why am I not going out on loan. It is something that we didn’t want to share until this moment because obviously [with] what’s coming up it needs to be said now. I just wanted to come out with this.”
McDonald, who was left out of Scott Parker’s 25-man Premier League squad and has not played for Fulham this season, has been gaining coaching experience with the club’s under-23 squad. He hopes to play again in the lower leagues after his scheduled transplant in April, which was made possible when friends and family put themselves forward to become donors.
“I’ve known I’ve needed a kidney transplant for nearly 12 years now. I’ve loved my whole career in football but at the same time, in the back of my mind, my health has always been my priority. Football is a game but we’re talking about life-threatening diseases,” McDonald said. “I’ve got one kidney that doesn’t work at all and one kidney that’s about 10% now. I’ve been playing with stage one, to now stage five kidney disease, which is chronic kidney disease, kidney failure.”
“It’s a part of me opening up about it – of course there were certain reasons to not tell anyone, so people and football clubs and businesses might not want to employ you as such. But now, knowing that I’m towards the end of my career I’ve taken the decision to pick health over football, this season especially.”
Fulham posted a segment of McDonald’s video message on their official Twitter account on Tuesday morning, with the message “we’re all behind you, Kev”.