Matisse Reid has always pined for a puppy, but countless operations and lengthy hospital stays meant she had to make do with a goldfish.
The 12-year-old has been back in Hawke's Bay for six months after spending half her life in the United States getting expert medical treatment for a rare disorder, chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo obstruction. And now, for the first time in her life, she has a pet she can cuddle.
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 through 43 line infections before the transplant.
She is one of just three intestinal transplant patients who have been well enough to return to their homes.
Matisse enjoys a full diet, with plenty of hokey pokey icecream now that the family are home.
Her favourite food, squid tentacles, has proved more difficult to find. She recently mistook bait for the seafood delicacy. Fortunately, mother Jodee noticed "not for human consumption" stamped on the packet. Because of Matisse's compromised immune system, the bait could have killed her.
Mrs Reid said the transplant had undoubtedly improved the quality of Matisse's life.
However, there were always more doctor appointments, sick days and the prospect of her body rejecting the transplanted organs.
Since returning, Matisse had adjusted to everyday tasks that she was once not up to doing.
She now has a school uniform to put on every day and hair to straighten before going to Napier Intermediate.
Hospital stays often got in the way of her education in Pittsburgh.
Matisse was now happiest when curled up on the couch with her puppy, Brick. "He's somebody to talk to when you feel sad and you don't feel good," she said. "His tail wags when I come home from school. He's my best friend."
- The Dominion Post
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