FORMER Burnley midfielder Kevin McDonald has had to take a break from football in order to have a kidney transplant, after revealing he has suffered kidney disease throughout his career.

It was during a medical amid the Scotland international's move from Dundee to Turf Moor that a kidney problem was flagged up, when he was just 18.

McDonald's transfer was completed and he has gone on to make more than 500 appearances.

More than 100 of those have come for current club Fulham. But the 32-year-old has not featured this season, with his last appearance as a late substitute for the Cottagers against Cardiff in July last year.

McDonald has managed his condition with the help of medics at all of his clubs, including Wolves, as well as kidney specialists which he refers to as his "kidney team".

He had hoped to be able to see out his career before requiring surgery, but that has not proved possible as the condition has progressed, and he could undergo the operation as early as next month, with friends and family volunteering to be kidney donors.

"I’ve been fighting a chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, pretty much ever since I started playing football," explained McDonald in a candid interview with Fulham's club website.

"I've had it my whole career and obviously been under the orders of the doctors throughout my whole career.

"I've had a lot of people asking why am I not playing and why did I not go out on loan and this and that but it was something that we didn't want to share until this moment.

"I've had a chronic kidney disease my whole career, and that's where it's at.

"I've known I've needed a kidney transplant for 12 years now."

McDonald, who won promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs in his first season with Burnley in 2009, hopes that his career will be able to continue once he has recovered from surgery.

But, equally, he accepts that he may have played professional football for the last time.

"I've loved my whole career in football, it's been absolutely brilliant, but at the same time at the back of my mind my health has always been a priority, as it should be for everyone," said McDonald, who has been coaching Fulham's Under 23s and would consider that long-term if necessary.

"Football's a game at the end of the day, we're talking about life threatening diseases and illnesses, so my perspective my whole life has been (making a) priority myself, my family and even more so now.

"Football's been great but there are certain things that need to take over that and this is one of them."