Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald says he has chronic kidney disease and is due to have a transplant next month.
The 32-year-old Scot has lived with the condition for 12 years but it has deteriorated, and he accepts it may now end his career prematurely.
“Football has been great but this needs to take over,” he told Fulham’s website.
“I want to get it done now, make sure everything is right and come back from it and live a normal life again.”
McDonald, who has been capped five times by Scotland, is hopeful of being able to continue playing professionally after the operation and a three-month recovery period, but while he has been sidelined with the condition this season he has been working with Fulham’s Under-23 and Under-18 sides to develop his coaching skills.
“I’m 32 and I could probably play until I’m 35. The Premier League is probably too fast, but I know where I am in my career,” he said.
“Will I want to play football? Will I be ready physically or mentally or do I go down the coaching route? I won’t know until I get the operation done and see how I will feel.”
McDonald joined Fulham from Wolves in 2016 and has made 128 appearances, but has not figured for the London club this season because of the illness, and has also turned down chances to move on loan.
His operation was due to take place this month but Covid-19 has meant a delay to all transplants. However, he hopes it will happen in April, with his brother and one of his best friends both preparing to donate a kidney.
“I’ve prepared my whole career knowing a transplant was the end goal,” he said. “We wanted it to happen after football, but the way recent test results have gone, it’s going to be quicker than that.
“I could hold on and have dialysis four times a week to finish my career but there comes a point when certain things just have to be done.
“There are so many benefits for me to have a living donor and I owe my life to them.”