Wellington mum-of-three dies of rare wood fungus disease
An extremely rare infection from a wood fungus has claimed the life of Wellington mum Moreen Naidu.
Her mother, Saras Krishna, said her daughter died peacefully on Saturday, a day after her heartbreaking story was revealed by Stuff.
Naidu, 35, of Tawa, spent the last 12 years battling the infection in her lungs, brain and heart caused by Schizophyllum commune, one of the world's most common wood-decay mushrooms, which also grows in New Zealand.
Last December, doctors gave her only six months to live, and told her only a couple of people worldwide had died from the fungus. She is believed to be New Zealand's only case.
She was admitted to Mary Potter Hospice in Newtown last week and died in her mother's arms on Saturday morning, surrounded by her three young sons, aged between 4 and 11.
"She was very peaceful in my arms," Krishna said on Tuesday.
Naidu had long hoped to beat the infection, which started in her lungs and caused one to collapse, as well as growths in her brain that had to be cut out.
Her doctors desperately sought international medical advice on treatment, but by last December, her condition was deemed terminal because the fungus had spread into her heart.
While doctors were unsure how or when she contracted it, most cases internationally were believed to be caused by people inhaling spores from the mushrooms, which had been released into the air.
Krishna, a taxi driver, said her three grandsons had been staying at her family's Newlands home for the past few weeks because her daughter had been too unwell to care for them, and they would continue living there permanently.
They were likely to shift to schools in the Newlands area mid-year.
"I have to be strong for them," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.
She said her daughter and their whole family were very grateful for the support offered to them by the community, including 160 people donating more than $6000 to their Givealittle fundraising page Help4Moreen, which was started last Thursday for Naidu's three sons Rohan, 11, Moulik, 5, and Elijah, 4.
"She was happy knowing about the fundraising. She brightened up about it – I think it made it easier for Moreen to let go," her mother said.
Many people also visited her on Friday at the hospice after her story became public. A funeral service and burial was held on Monday.