Rodney Times : February 1st 2011
www.rodneytimes.co.nz Tuesday, February 1, 2011 Apartments from $190,000 Hopper Developments Ltd Gain the freedom to sit back & enjoy life Phone now on 09 427 0090 / 0800 629 476 View us on Trade Me Properties 65 Tauranga Place, Orewa / www.maygroveorewa.co.nz A new lease of life New life: Liver transplant recipient Kabuati Babaua of Warkworth, right, with wife Tebwebweiti Babaua and long-time friend Martin Robertson, at Mr Robertson's Warkworth home two days after Mr Babaua was released from hospital with his new liver. Photo: TABERANNANG KORAUABA By TABERANNANG KORAUABA A SUCCESSFUL liver trans- plant is giving a 45-year-old Warkworth man a fresh lease of life. Kabuati Babaua is orig- inally from the South Pacific nation of Kiribati. He was told by doctors that he would die if he didn't get a new liver. Mr Babaua struggled with his memory a few weeks after being diagnosed. I had come to a point where I didn't know where I was, not even recognising my friends,'' he says. I was just like a dead man walking. The only thought on my mind was a miracle,'' he says. And that happened in November when long-time friend Martin Robertson, also from Warkworth, informed him he had a donor. I thought it was a miracle coming from heaven,''' Mr Babaua says. I wanted to jump, laugh and thank the Lord.'' Mr Babaua knew the oper- ation could mean life or death. Ten hours later, he thought he was in a different place or on a different planet. I opened my eyes and whispered to my wife, where am I?' '' Doctors and nurses looked like ghosts and he did not want them to come closer. A new liver was trans- planted successfully and he spent Christmas and New Year's Eve at the Auckland city hospital recuperating. They treated my husband like one of their own,'' wife Tebwebweiti says of staff, with tears running down her cheeks. Mr Babaua returned home to Warkworth on January 14. I have to follow certain strict rules to stay alive,'' he says. When I am fully recovered, I will go back to work for New Zealand to pay up my debts.'' By that he means he owes doctors, nurses, and the donor family his life, so has much to contribute to New Zealand society as a result. Mr Babaua received food parcels and encouragement from friends at the Wark- worth Presbyterian church and Catholic church while on his sick bed. I want to tell the world that there are so many good Samaritans in Warkworth, thank you so much,'' Mrs Babaua says. She flew from Kiribati in November to accompany her husband to the hospital. Mr Babaua first heard of New Zealand from his wife, a nurse who accompanied a patient from Kiribati hospital to New Zealand in 2001. She arranged for him to come here. Mr Babaua migrated to New Zealand in 2002 and four months later got a job with Southern Pap- rika, leaving in 2008 after his health got worse. He says he found out he had a liver prob- lem in 2004. Mr Babaua has permanent residence in New Zealand, entitling him to free or subsidised services. Martin Robertson says he first came into contact with Mr Babaua a few years ago when he helped him with his residency application. He was told his friend was very sick last year and offered to help him with his appli- cation for a new accommo- dation allowance and assist- ance from Work and Income. Mr Babaua says it was Mr Robertson's Kiwi sense of humour that also helped him recover. It cost an average $104,000 for the last three liver transplants for Waitemata residents, the Waitemata District Health Board says. These were all uncomplicated operations. No charges apply to the patient unless the procedure is offered to a non-eligible patient. If the patient is ineligible they need to pay the full cost. Taberannang Korauaba is a Kiribati freelance journalist based in Auckland. He interviewed Mr Babaua in the Kiribati language.
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