NORTHERN New South Wales Year 8 student Ieyesha Roberts is entering the new school year with one of the greatest gifts imaginable – a new kidney.
For the 13-year-old, the transplant means a new life, free of dialysis.
Kempsey’s St Paul’s College and the wider community have raised more than $11,000 to help the teenager’s family with ongoing costs associated with the transplant. College principal Kevin Lewis said Ieyesha was “excited” to be back at school.
“Ieyesha’s doing very well all things considered,” he said. “She’ll be taking things carefully, given she’s on anti-rejection drugs. However, the fact her doctor has given her the go-ahead to start school is very promising.”
Ieyesha suffered a rare auto-immune disease that caused kidney failure in July last year. The then 12-year-old was immediately placed on the kidney transplant list. Until the transplant, which happened in Sydney last November, Ieyesha had been hooked up to dialysis 10 hours every day.
At the time, her mother Roxanne McNamara said “it’s just not fair at her age”.
“We do the dialysis overnight, but she can’t do sleepovers, things like that,” she said.
Mr Lewis said staff and students at St Paul’s had been praying for Ieyesha since the news of her kidney failure.
“Suddenly there was news of a transplant available and she was off to Sydney,” he said.
Parish priest Fr Paul Gooley and the All Saints’ Parish provided support for her family with school fees and other associated school costs.
“There were all sorts of fundraising events including busking by some of our students,” Mr Lewis said. Two Year 11 students – Ed Burns and McKinlee Payne – were among those involved in fundraising. They busked at a local supermarket and raised $500.
“The money raised has helped Ieyesha’s family with things like transport costs to Sydney to support her during her operation and after,” Mr Lewis said. “It’s been a real inspiration to see how the college and local community have pitched in.”