Lending a helping hand and a kidney

Last updated 05:00 29/05/2013
Pagan Moon

FRIENDS THROUGH SICKNESS AND HEALTH: Pagan Moon, right, is donating a kidney to fellow art student Mike Batista. A charity art auction will help raise funds for their recovery.

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When Pagan Moon saw the rapid deterioration of health in her classmate Mike Batista she had just one hesitation before offering one of her kidneys to him.

She wasn't sure how she would support herself and her six-year-old daughter Grace for the 4-6 weeks it would take to recover after transplant surgery.

Ms Moon and Mr Batista's fellow arts students at the Eastern Institute of Technology had the answer. They've created a number of works, including painted sculpted models of Ms Moon's hand, to sell at auction in the hope of raising funds for her recovery.

Ms Moon, 45, and Mr Batista, 34, met when starting a Diploma of Visual Arts and Design three years ago. Both are solo parents of young children and found they had much more in common. Ms Moon has also become good friends with Mike's fiancee, Rhiannon, and jokes that the organ is an early wedding present.

Mr Batista was 11 when he lost his left leg after being run over by a truck. A subsequent infection weakened his kidneys and an uncle became a donor for a transplant in 2007.

"That all went well until last year," he said. "It started to fail slowly at first but toward the end of the year it went from about 30 per cent function to 5 per cent."

Since October, Mr Batista has needed dialysis three days a week, five hours each time.

"I really don't want to be on dialysis. When I was told I needed it I was straight on to trying to find a donor. Pagan straight away said, ‘yep, I'll be tested'," he said.

She was one of nine people, including family, to be tested for compatibility. Ms Moon proved to be the closest match. "It wasn't a hard decision to make, to be honest, especially after seeing him go downhill so quickly," she said.

Ms Moon and Mr Batista will go to Wellington for the surgery. After three days in hospital, Ms Moon will return to Napier. A friend will travel to Napier and care for her and Grace during her recovery.

All going to plan, the surgery will take place during the mid-year break so few, if any, classes will be missed.

The artworks will be on display at EIT's Vent Gallery from June 4-14. They will be auctioned on Trade Me along with T-shirts and badges.

The students hope to raise $3000, with the balance of what Ms Moon does not need to be donated to charity.

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- The Dominion Post

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