Alice hoping for no more big ops

Alice Skinner with dad George
Alice Skinner with dad George

SHE has cheated death countless times and endured an endless list of tests, treatments, hospital stays and surgery.

But now the doting dad of kidney patient Alice Skinner is hoping his brave daughter has had her last major operation – her 27th.

Alice won the Child of Achievement Award at the Mail’s inaugural Pride of Hartlepool ceremony, where the audience heard how she had been born without kidneys.

Alice – who was fed through a tube in her stomach for many years – was Britain’s youngest patient to go on dialysis at the age of six months and was a regular face at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) as she awaited a life-saving kidney transplant.

Now, however, she’s recovering well from a kidney transplant and is getting ready to celebrate her 11th birthday.

Her dad George, 41, revealed Alice can look forward to secondary school and joining in with all the other children after having surgery on her knees to correct problems on her legs caused by years of dialysis.

“There were times when we thought she wouldn’t make it,” said George, who lives in the Clavering area of Hartlepool.

“Alice is 11 in March and we see each birthday as a milestone. We never thought we would see this far. She’s a proper grown-up little lady now too.”

When Alice was born in March 2001, George, a salesman, and her mum Nicola Andrews were devastated to learn her kidneys were little more than stumps.

The condition affects just one baby in a million born in the UK and Alice came close to death many times in those early days after the organs failed to develop in the womb and her body slowly poisoned itself.

She and her family spent years travelling to Ward 2 of the RVI for thrice-weekly dialysis as she waited for a transplant.

Both parents were unsuitable as donors, and doctors were running out of veins to hook her up to the machine.

Then finally, in April 2008, the magic day came when she could have the transplant, albeit with an imperfect match as no perfect match could be found.

All that separated Alice from typical children of her age were the anti-rejection tablets she must take for the rest of her life.

But the dramas didn’t end there as she then had to undergo brain surgery due to fluid build-up.

George added: “The surgeons were really quite surprised she got through it and said, ‘We don’t know how she’s still here’.”

Determined to do anything other children could do Alice, who has a big sister in 22-year-old Lucy, took up table-tennis.

And she’s become so good that she represents Newcastle as a member of the RVI Children’s Transplant Games Team. Last year she travelled to Belfast for the British Transplant Games and scooped a silver medal.

That’s despite years of dialysis affecting her legs – a side-effect that has now finally been rectified in what is hopefully her final major operation.

She has had two hinges put into each knee cap to straighten her legs, which will also add an inch to her height.

George said: “She’s had 27 operations in 10 years and that’s quite enough for anyone.

“We hope that’s the last big one though – she’ll need to have the hinges out at some point, but we would like the operations to stop now thank you!”

This summer Alice will leave Clavering Primary School to go to St Hild’s C of E School.

And proud George says she’s had no problem keeping up with others her age.

He added: “She’s got no qualms about going to big school – she’s all grown up now.”