Eyes set on gold at games

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Ready, set: Matthew Moko­roa is com­pet­ing in the 100 me­tre sprint at the World Trans­plant Games next month.

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