Matisse thankful for family's gift of life

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Transplant recipient Matisse Reid of Napier has been able to meet the parents of a boy who saved her life.

Six years ago the 11-year-old and her family moved to Pittsburgh where she underwent a stomach, duodenum, pancreas, small and large bowel transplant in 2010.

"I remember closing the front door to our home six years ago and wondered if we would be back by Christmas - not even I could have predicted what a journey this would be," Matisse's mother Jodee wrote in a recent blog post.

"I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined Matisse doing so well considering what a sick little girl she was back then. We are truly grateful. So many factors and so many people got us to this point, it is incredible to think that we are ready to embark on a new journey."

Since the life-changing operation Matisse has been walking a long road to recovery, but until last week she had never come face to face with the family of her donor, who had made it all possible.

"Being an organ donor is an incredibly heroic act. Being the parents of an organ donor is a selfless sacrifice.

I can never ever begin to imagine how difficult that decision is," Jodee wrote.

The Reid family met Travis and Melissa, who described their son, Tanner, as a "beautiful boy" who loved to "swim, climb trees, hunt and collect things".

"It was not our right to receive organs for Matisse. They were a precious gift from a most generous family. Our gain was always going to be at the expense of someone else's great loss.

"Meeting Tanner's parents was something we had hoped for but nothing could have prepared us for the great heartache we felt for the loss of a little boy we only know through photos and videos and the light he left in his parents' eyes when they talk about him."

Matisse and her family will return to Napier in January although she is "not out of the woods yet" and moving away from the team who saw her through the transplant is daunting for the family.

"We are fortunate to have an international team of people who all have Matisse's best interests at heart and I accept that between myself, our Pittsburgh team and our New Zealand team that everything possible will be done to continue her progress and ensure Matisse has the best life possible - but it's still scary to move 8000 miles away from the experts.

"Some days she can't wait to go to New Zealand and other days she tells me she is going to stay here in Pittsburgh and live in someone's basement."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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