Alice Skinner thanks donor family for the gift of life as she celebrates 13 years since her kidney transplant

Today marks 13 years since Alice Skinner underwent a life-changing kidney transplant.

Sunday, 4th April 2021, 4:49 pm

Alice, from Hartlepool, was just seven years old when she underwent the transplant at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle on April 4, 2008.

Born with a condition called renal dysplasia, meaning that her kidneys were not properly formed, at the age of six months Alice became Britain’s youngest patient to go on dialysis.

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Alice said: “It has been a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone.

“As much as we are celebrating [you have to think that] there is a family out there who are still grieving [for their loved one] all these years later.

“I wrote to the donor family last year and they accepted the letter.

"It is totally up to them whether they want to reply or not but just knowing that they accepted it is good."

Alice Skinner underwent a kidney transplant 13 years ago.
Alice Skinner underwent a kidney transplant 13 years ago.

In the letter Alice expressed her gratitude for her donor and told them what she has been up to since receiving her transplant.

Her journey has also inspired her plans for the future, as she is set to study health care at Northumbria University in Newcastle with plans to work in children’s nursing.

Mum Nicola Frankland, couldn’t be prouder of Alice, who has also had to spend the last year shielding during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alice Skinner as a child in hospital.

"It has been a tough year for Alice, so it is nice to be able to celebrate now and we hope that life can get back to normal for her.”

Reflecting on the transplant milestone, Nicola added: "It has been quite a journey.

“When she was born we had no idea about the life of a kidney patient.

Alice Skinner with mum Nicola Frankland.

"Kidneys are probably something you take for granted but then suddenly we were thrown into this world.

"Thankfully dialysis helped her to get to the age she needed to be to get put on the list for a transplant and thankfully that happened in 2008.”

Alice is now on daily medication to prevent her body from rejecting the kidney.

Mum Nicola continued: “People think the transplant is the cure but it’s not, it’s just treatment – because there are still a lot of other things that get affected.

"So there have been ups and downs, but thankfully we were given the opportunity for the transplant because someone had signed up to the organ donation register.”

The importance of organ donation is something the family have spoken about over the years.

They were overjoyed when the law was changed in May 2020 to make organ donation an ‘opt-out’ system, meaning that if you have not expressed your decision to opt-out of donation and are not in an excluded group, it will be considered that you consent to donate your organs.

However families will continue to be involved before organ donation goes ahead.

Nicola continued: "The opt-out was a great milestone.

“You just think how many people that were willing to donate but unfortunately had not been able to have a say when it came down to it because their family didn’t know.

"It is important to sign up [to the organ donation register] but it is also important to speak to relatives and close people to you so that they know what your decision is.”

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