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EIT Art Students Support Classmates Through Kidney Transplant

May 31, 2013

Friends through adversity, from left, Kaye McGarva, Michael Batista and Pagan Moon.

EIT ideaschool students are rallying round to help classmate Michael Batista who was run over by a truck as a youngster, losing a leg and subsequently his kidneys.

Late last year, Michael’s transplanted kidney suddenly failed and he has been undergoing dialysis five hours a day, three days a week since.

Fellow Diploma of Visual Arts and Design student Pagan Moon has stepped up to the mark in offering one of her kidneys, and the transplant surgery is scheduled for the semester break.  Students have also mobilised to support her, forming the ‘Birdie Collective’ to create artwork for an auction to raise funds that will ensure she makes a good recovery.

Pagan resolved to help Michael because she felt it was the only option worth considering.

“To lose a mate – that’s not a very good alternative.  It’s a bit scary, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t do it.  A lot die waiting for donors.”

Pagan says level 6 ideaschool students have got to know each other really well over their three years at EIT, lunching together “pretty much every day”.

Touched by Pagan’s reason for donating a kidney, Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design student Kaye McGarva is leading the fundraising campaign because, she says, her classmate needs the financial support.  Pagan will have help with eating well after the surgery – scheduled for EIT’s mid-year break – and with tasks that include running her six-year-old daughter to and from school.

Michael considers himself fortunate to have so much support and he hopes his story will encourage others to become live donors.

“When I said I needed help, everyone put their hand up.  I try to help everyone else, and people help me when I need it too.”

Having informed family and friends of his failing kidney, nine people offered to donate one of theirs.  Seven were tested for compatibility and Pagan proved the closest match.

“Renal Services said that was the largest group they’d had in quite a while,” Michael says.  “They were quite surprised.”

Kaye points out that the relationship between the two is not romantic and that Michael got engaged last year.

“This is an early wedding present,” laughs Pagan who, not having been on a plane before, claims to be more nervous about flying to Wellington than she is about the surgery itself.

Lots for the Trade Me auction, open to bidders from June 4-14, will include badges and T-shirts featuring a “guardian angel” logo – the wing is a cross section of a kidney – screen-printed images of Michael, sculpted models of Pagan’s  hand decorated by different students and a lightbox artwork created by Kaye.

The lightbox – which she hopes will fetch a good price – features a bottle of Coca Cola, picking up on the logo Michael has tattooed on his leg.

Kaye contacted the company about using the trademarked image.

“They said absolutely.  So we got good support and are using that on T-shirts too.”

Head of ideaschool Suzette Major says the fundraising campaign has become quite big.

“It’s been driven by students, demonstrating their sense of community.  Graduates of the degree programme are also backing the scheme by donating art.”

Pagan is grateful that the support is taking much of the stress out of a challenging situation.

“Mike thinks he’s incredibly lucky,” she says. “He sees his situation as one of good fortune.”

The public can view the works to be auctioned at ideaschool’s Vent Gallery from June 4-14.  Details of auction can be found on https://www.facebookcom/#!/birdiecollect?fref=ts which has a link from the EIT website.

The aim is to raise $3000 and Pagan will take what she needs from the fund.  The balance is to be  donated to a charity supporting live donors or to Ronald McDonald House.