Six years and 21 days have gone by and countless operations endured since Matisse Reid was last home.
But now she is back, all she wants is to have fish and chips on the beach with her family.
Matisse, 12, rushed into her grandmother's arms on arrival at Napier Airport yesterday.
It's the first time she has been well enough to come home since her family left for the United States seeking expert medical treatment for her rare disorder - chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo obstruction.
Matisse had never eaten until having a stomach, intestine, pancreas and bowel transplant in 2010. For 11 years she survived on a sugary substance fed through a central line because her bacteria-filled intestine did not work.
She also battled her way through 43 line infections before the transplant.
Matisse was excited and nervous about coming back to a home she barely remembered.
"I'm finally fixed up. It's cool to be home and see the family," she said with a huge smile on her face. "We left home to come home."
She was looking forward to tucking into some seafood, starting with fish and chips on the beach last night. "You can't come to New Zealand and not have fish and chips."
Mother Jodee Reid said it was fantastic to be home after such a long struggle. However, Matisse was not out of the woods yet.
Just two weeks ago she battled through her body going into rejection. Matisse would have to live with the prospect of her body rejecting the transplanted organs throughout her life, Mrs Reid said.
"We really don't know what the future holds because it was such a rare transplant. Her future is definitely brighter than it was pre-transplant."
The family relied on the support from New Zealanders, who dug deep during fundraising drives, until Mrs Reid and husband Wayne were granted working visas in the US.
Chef Gordon Ramsay gave $100,000 last year.
The thought of Matisse getting well enough to live a "normalish" life got the family through the tough times, Mrs Reid said. But for Matisse it was her small soft toy that helped. "I still have my soft toy Barney with me."
- The Dominion Post
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