Epi Ronaki is back home in Te Puke after a liver transplant saved his life.

The 26-year-old teacher aide and sports co-ordinator was extremely excited when he and his family found out last Wednesday he would be able to go home on Friday.

"We couldn't wait to get back for our son Diaz. We surprised him on Friday - he thought he was coming to Auckland but instead we hid in his room," he said with a laugh.

Mr Ronaki said he would have to go back up to Auckland in a few weeks to have a check-up but then hopefully the family's ordeal in Auckland would come to an end.


"However, we will have a life connection with the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit up there."

Earlier this year, Mr Ronaki quickly went downhill after what he thought was fatigue turned out to be liver disease, brought on by hepatitis B.

He was admitted to Auckland Hospital on July 10, where his family were told he had two to seven days to live without a new liver. The next day they were told he only had about 48 hours to live.

He was put on the emergency waiting list for Australia and New Zealand. On July 12, he had the transplant that saved his life.

Mr Ronaki said he was now focused on getting his strength back and hoped to return to the job he loved for term four at Greerton Village Primary.

"Then eventually get back into sports and the gym which were a big part of my life before transplant. Spending more time with family and friends is also a lot more important to me now."

Mr Ronaki said he wanted to thank his family and friends for their amazing support from the start of his ordeal, and the support they were still receiving now.

He said when people found out he needed a liver transplant many friends from across New Zealand and Australia offered to be live donors.

"Without the support from them this road would have been a lot more difficult."

Mr Ronaki said he was humbled to be given a second chance at life.

"I would like to thank our donor family hugely. We will be forever grateful for their generosity at such a difficult time for them. Without them I wouldn't be here today.

He was also thankful for all the help of the health care professionals involved in looking after him, Greerton Village Primary School and those who donated to his cause through the Givealittle campaigns.

Number of transplant operations in New Zealand in 2015:

• 12 - Hearts

• 23 - Lungs

• 45 - Livers (deceased donors)

• 3 - Livers (living donors)

• 3 - Pancreas

• 73 - Kidneys (deceased donors)

• 74 - Kidneys (living donors)