Family and friends of Matt Johnson are astounded by the recovery he is making after battling for his life following open heart surgery.
The 26-year-old Cook Islander, who suffered from a bout of rheumatic fever when he was just 13, was in intensive care and on life support following multiple surgeries last week.
But after six days in intensive care, Matt, a former Blues rugby midfielder, awoke much to the relief of his family and friends, including his dad on Rarotonga.
Rangi Mitaera-Johnson, Matt’s step-mother, said the family were grateful to everyone for their support and prayers.
“It’s been a phenomenal recovery thanks to his medical team, family support and the many who have contributed prayers and encouragement during these couple of weeks,” she said.
“We are all so pleased and Matthew got to do a video call the other day with his dad and older sister in Australia. He has so much to get through, but with his determination and his level of fitness, we are positive that his recovery will be sooner than later.
“This has not been easy for us all but with everyone coming together it has certainly impacted on how important words of kindness means to us all.”
Matt’s partner Taylah Hodson-Tomokino, who has been by his side since day one, said the recovery would be a difficult path to navigate.
But with the love and support he has received from his friends, family and strangers, “anything is possible”, she said.
“To know he was on the brink of death and is now lying here awake is nothing short of a miracle. No amount of thanks will ever be enough to show the staff here at Auckland Hospital how appreciative I am of their tireless efforts to heal Matty,” Hodson-Tomokino said.
“Understandably, Matt is exhausted and in a lot of pain, so I kindly ask that you refrain from attempting to visit him within the next few days. He may be awake, but he is extremely weak.
“He has to get some decent movement in his joints after being immobile for a prolonged period of time, so effectively teach his body how to walk again.”
Matt’s dad Mataio Johnson was “feeling so hopeless” as he was unable to travel to New Zealand to see his son due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Mataio couldn’t wait for the borders to reopen, so he could be by his son’s side.