Support floods in for student

By Roger Moroney

For EIT student Pagan Moon, looking after a mate is part of life. And life is literally what looking after her fellow Diploma of Visual Arts and Design student Michael Batista is all about.

She is preparing to offer up more than just friendship - she is about to give up one of her kidneys.

Life has been a tough road for Mr Batista. When he was 10 years old he was seriously injured after he fell from a moving truck. The damage to his left leg was so severe it had to be amputated.

"Then the infections from the leg reached my kidneys - shut them down," he said. "But I was only a child and you bounce back."

He did, and received a kidney transplant, but late last year with little warning it began to fail and since then the 34-year-old has been undergoing dialysis five hours a day, three days a week.

Unsettling his EIT studies was only a minor issue compared to the long-term picture, and that prompted Ms Moon to step up with a brave and determined plan to help her mate.

"To lose a mate - that's not a very good alternative," she said.

"It's a bit scary but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't do it. A lot of people die waiting for donors."

Her plans to donate a kidney quickly fired up the other Visual Arts and Design students who, after studying, creating and relaxing together over the past three years, had formed a strong bond of mateship.

Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design student Kaye McGarva stepped up to plot and plan and lead a fundraising campaign - recognising her classmate Ms Moon, who is looking after a six-year-old daughter, would need financial support in the wake of the crucial surgery.

They are aiming to raise $3000, and after Ms Moon's financial needs have been looked after any remaining funds will go to a charity supporting live donors, and Ronald McDonald House.

Mr Batista said he was blown away by what had unfolded.

"When I said I needed help everyone put their hand up," he said.

When his family learned his kidney was failing, and after he told his friends, nine people stepped forward to say "you can have one of mine".

Seven were tested for compatibility and Ms Moon showed the closest match.

"It's just amazing," Mr Batista said.

Engaged to be married, he agreed it was like an early wedding present from Ms Moon.

While a firm date for the transplant operation had not been settled yet he hoped it would be within the next couple of months as that would coincide with the midwinter break.

"Then I won't lose too much time - I can come back here and do my art."

Ms McGarva said the students were putting together lots for a Trade Me auction which will take place between June 4 and 14.

It will include badges and T-shirts featuring a guardian angel logo - the wing is a cross section of a kidney, sculpted models of Ms Moon's hand decorated by different students and a lightbox artwork, which features a bottle of Coca Cola, picking up on the logo Mr Batista has tattooed on his leg.

Ms McGarva contacted the company about using the trademarked image.

"They said absolutely. So we got good support and are using that on T-shirts too."

The public can view the works to be auctioned at ideaschool's Vent Gallery from June 4-14. Details can be found at!/birdiecollect?fref=ts - which has a link from the EIT website.

Bay kidney facts

  • 24 people in Hawke's Bay are on the kidney transplant waiting list.

  • Since January 2012, eight people have had kidney transplants (not all from live donors).

  • If anyone is interested in becoming a donor, please contact the Hawke's Bay District Health Board's renal service, or see your GP.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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