A FUNDRAISING campaign by a well-known Oxford artist has helped pay for a life-changing kidney transplant for a friend in China.

Last month, Weimin He, 48, from Summertown, staged an exhibition aiming to sell his paintings to raise funds for an operation for farmer’s son Wu Jiangwei.

After showing more than 30 works of art at the Sinolink Gallery in St Clement’s Street, East Oxford, between December 12 and December 19, about £12,000 was raised.

The sale was designed to help the family of Wu Jiangwei, 24, from Nihegou village in China’s Shaanxi Province, who had suffered kidney failure.

Mr He, who is working for Oxford University to sketch ongoing changes at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, said the transplant operation took place on December 31.

He added: “I was surprised that the operation went ahead so quickly, but Jiangwei was seriously ill.

“At first Jiangwei’s mother was going to donate one of her kidneys but in the end a better match was found.

“The operation went well but Jiangwei will have to stay in hospital for a little while.

“The £12,000 raised went a long way towards the £20,000 cost of the operation and the family used savings to pay for the difference.

“But without people’s support, the operation would not have gone ahead.”

Mr He said that as well as buying paintings at the exhibition, people commissioned new work, and donations came in from Oxford and China.

“People have been very generous and a community effort has made a massive difference,” he added.

“I’m grateful to the Sinolink gallery which staged the exhibition for free.

“The show was also supported by Chinese students in Oxford and alumni of Oxford University in China, as well as a Christian community in Shenzhen, China.

“The writer Sylvia Vetta also sold copies of her book Oxford Castaways to help raise funds.

“I know Jiangwei’s family is deeply touched by people’s kindness and generosity, especially those in Oxford.”

Jiangwei said before the operation: “I feel very touched. I wish to express my gratefulness to all the good-hearted people in Oxford.”

Mr He, originally from China, moved to Oxford in 2005 and worked as artist-in-residence at the Ashmolean Museum, documenting its £61m restoration, before moving to his current job.