The priceless gift of life

Rebekka, Isaak (8), Nathan (4) and Gianpiero Battista, of Goonellabah, enjoying time at home together following Isaaks life-saving transplant surgery, where he received one of his dads kidneys.

By Eve SintonIsaak Battista, aged eight, is thriving since his dad Gianpiero gave him an early Christmas present a new kidney.

Having spent many of his young years in hospital due to a birth defect that affected his kidneys and required numerous operations, Isaak is now on the road to recovery after receiving one of is fathers kidneys in a life-saving live organ transplant late last year.

For his parents, Gianpero and Rebekka Battista from Goonellabah, who also run the Left Bank Caf, there is nothing better than seeing their boy well and happy.

He is much stronger, Rebekka said. His energy levels and his concentration are normal, and hes really happy to be able to eat anything he likes, such as chocolate.

Mr Battista said he is also in good health following the keyhole surgery to remove his kidney.

The pain was minimal, and now I only have the scar to remind me, he said. I havent felt any tiredness or weakness. And nothing could make me happier than to see Isaak doing so well.

The Battistas are encouraging people to tick the donor box on their drivers licence, or to consider live donations the kidney being the only organ that can be transplanted from a live donor.

While the Battistas, with the support of extended family, have been able to cope with around three months off work and the out-of-pocket expenses, they are supportive of calls by Kidney Health Australia for the federal government to provide financial support to live organ donors, such as Centrelink benefits during recovery.

However, we think more education is the best way to increase the number of people donating organs, Gianpiero said. If more people are aware of stories like ours, and the wonderful outcome from donating an organ, they would be more willing to become donors themselves.

Kidney Health Australia spokeswoman Anne Wilson says compensation would make it easier for people to become live kidney donors while saving the government millions.

It costs $60,000 a year to keep a patient on kidney dialysis for a year while waiting for a kidney donor, she said. The average waiting time is four years, and one person dies every week while waiting.

However, federal health minister Tony Abbott says he is yet to be convinced of the benefits of financial compensation. I will be looking at the results of research being conducted by Australians Donate, which is looking at barriers to donation such as finance, he said.

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