Eyes set on gold at games
A YOUNG liver transplant patient is running rings around his schoolmates, and he’s doing it all Island style.
Thirteen-year-old Matthew Mokoroa had the life-saving transplant after contracting wilson’s disease at the age of nine.
Just four years later, the Pasadena Intermediate School student has made a full recovery and has been awarded a Variety gold heart scholarship, enabling him to travel to the World Transplant Games on the Gold Coast next month where he’ll race in the 100 metres.
But first he’ll have to get used to running in shoes.
The young sprinter, who always ran barefoot at school races in Rarotonga, has continued to win without the help of expensive running shoes.
But he’ll be wearing them when he lines in Australia.
“I keep telling him, he’s going to have to get used to wearing them first,” says Matthew’s mother Annie Heather.
Although he’s fighting fit now, he still needs fortnightly blood tests and monthly checkups.
Annie says it’s been remarkable how fast he recovered after the surgery. Within a year he was winning athletic events at Grey Lynn Primary School.
She says when he fell ill in Rarotonga, a faith healer at first told the family Matthew had a heart problem.
By the time he got to Starship children’s hospital in Auckland and was correctly diagnosed with liver failure, he was given just a month to live.
Fortunately his father was a donor match and a third of his liver was successfully transplanted into Matthew.
And the position of his new liver – growing underneath his ribs – means he is free to pursue his other passion, rugby league.
Playing for the Pt Chevalier Pirates he has been player of the day almost every game this season and says he hopes to play professionally one day.
He’ll be signing up to play in a team at St Paul’s College when he starts there next year.
“They’re the top for league,” says Matthew.
For now he is focused on the Gold Coast games from August 22 to 30.
The games began more than 20 years ago and are the largest organ donor awareness event in the world.
The Variety scholarship has paid for Matthew’s airfares and accommodation and Annie is fundraising to go with him.
He is one of 22 young Kiwis who received the scholarship this year, awarded to children with special needs with sporting, academic or musical talents.
Scholarship winners can receive up to $5000 for three years to help them reach their goals.
Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor says there is a huge range of talent in this year’s group of winners, from weightlifters to ice skaters, table tennis players and waka ama paddlers.
“The common theme with these children is their outstanding talent and determination to reach their goals,” she says.
To make a donation to help Annie accompany Matthew to the Gold Coast, visit www.fundraisingonline. co.nz/MatthewMokoroa.
Ready, set: Matthew Mokoroa is competing in the 100 metre sprint at the World Transplant Games next month.