LIFE IS a challenge for Manly United’s Daniel Bragg – but it has nothing to do with football.
The gun midfielder lives on dialysis, with his kidneys not functioning as they should.
His problems began when he was unable to shake a common bout of the flu at the age of 15.
"I didn’t think it was a big deal initially,” the 23-year-old told Football NSW.
"I noticed I was tired all the time, no appetite and I was sleeping a fair bit, but I thought it was just part of puberty.
"After I had a few tests I became aware of my situation."
Bragg juggled the condition in his late teenage years fairly comfortably, rising through the ranks at Blacktown City FC before eventually breaking into the Hyundai A-League with the now defunct Gold Coast United in 2012.
He has refused to let the uncomfortable situation run his life, despite having to take daily medication.
"I need to clean out the toxins from my body with dialysis treatment 3 days a week for 3-5 hours per treatment using a fistula. This is a vein connected to an artery, so it almost works like a second heart, along with taking anti-rejection drugs and blood pressure tablets,” Bragg added.
"I have always eaten the right foods and lived a healthy lifestyle, so staying on the right path hasn’t been that challenging.
“Things can always be worse.”
Bragg met a number of people living a similar existence to himself when represented the Transplant Australia XI last Saturday at Cromer Park.
His team-mates had all undergone some sort of transplant surgery, be it liver, heart, kidney or even their eyes.
“Seeing what other people have to deal with was confronting, but also educational,’’ he said.
“We all swapped stories and then had a kick versus a (Invitational) team from Belrose Terrey Hills (Raiders), which was fun.
“The aim is to keep increasing awareness.”
Manly United coach Paul Dee is aware of the sacrifices Bragg undertakes to play elite football.
"There has never been a question over his talent, but when I found out he was on dialysis, I was blown away,” he said.
"Daniel doesn’t feel sorry for himself – no doubt it isn’t the best situation, but he just gets on with it, he is that type of character and for us he is invaluable.
"We are very lucky to have him on our team sheet."
A knock in the wrong place could have dire consequences for Bragg, but he doesn’t worry about what may happen — he takes the appropriate precautions and plays with no fear, a style which took him to the top of the sport at his peak.