An Auckland man who was being progressively paralysed by a rare autoimmune disease hardening his skin and internal organs has died.
Callan Fabian had scleroderma, a disease that makes the body produce too much collagen, which attacks healthy organs causing them to be overtaken by scar tissue.
The condition was progressively hardening his internal organs, causing permanent damage and slowly trapping the 44-year-old in his own body.
Earlier this week Fabian's plight featured in the Herald and supporters donated more than $24,000 towards his ongoing care.
The spokeswoman for a group supporting Aucklanders living with the disease, Ann Wills, said the community was "heartbroken". Fabian had died early on Thursday morning after a turn for the worse the night before.
Fabian's specialist had predicted he would be able to fight the disease until at least Christmas, so the news came as a shock to Wills and the team at Scleroderma Auckland.
In a heartwarming twist, Fabian had been treated to an early Christmas celebration on Tuesday.
Wills said when funds began to trickle in for a Givealittle page set up for Fabian and his helper Ray, she had purchased a bunch of items to make him more comfortable. She was set to head into his Glen Eden Rest retirement village with the parcel - then thought again.
"I just had this funny feeling. And so I thought 'I should wrap these up as Christmas presents'. We put on Santa Hats and took him the presents; a nice soft blanket, a body pillow, a tri-pillow and a few different drinks that we though he'd enjoy."
Wills said he was pretty excited about it, but was insistent he would be around to enjoy the real deal at the end of the year.
Fabian was diagnosed with the condition more than a decade ago, however it has been sitting dormant for most of those years. It was only about three years ago that it took over his body.
Information on the Scleroderma New Zealand website says the disease affects an estimated 1000 Kiwis. Research is under way to establish what causes the disease and there is currently no known cure.
Speaking to the Herald on Monday, Fabian told of how daily visits from his caregiver Ray had brightened up his life.
Ray Farrell stumbled across Fabian when he was visiting another member of the RSA in the North Shore Hospital. The 69-year-old is the RSA's district support adviser for the Auckland region and keeps an eye on elderly or sick members.
"He came along at just the right time when I was starting to get a whole lot worse," Fabian said.
Wills said she believed Ray was by his side for his last breaths.
A Givealittle page set up for Fabian had raised close than $24,000 since it was set up last week.
Givealittle spokeswoman Lynn Le Gros said funds donated to Fabian's cause would go to the Scleroderma Auckland, as detailed on the page itself.
"From our perspective the page has been really clear - the money will go back to that organisation."
Le Gros said any discussion about whether funds would be put towards Fabian's funeral was a conversation to be had between Fabian's family, and the scleroderma support group.
Givealittle has since tweeted about Fabian's passing and the support for his cause.
The organisation said it was "Heart warming how much support Callan received from generous Kiwis".