TODAY Alice Skinner looks and acts just like any normal 10-year-old girl.
She likes pop heart-throb Justin Bieber, TV’s Dr Who and hanging out with her school pals.
But three years ago things were very different as Alice, who won the Child of Achievement Award at the Mail’s inaugural Pride of Hartlepool awards, was recovering from a life-saving kidney transplant.
He dad George, 41, said: “The gift of a donation changed her life.”
The brave youngster, who was born with no kidneys, had been on the donor waiting list for four years before George finally got the call to say a kidney had been found.
Alice, who lives in Clavering, Hartlepool, was quickly collected from school and rushed up to Newcastle RVI before being wheeled into theatre for the five- hour operation.
Looking back on that day, George added: “Afterwards I thought ‘did I have that phone call, was it real?’
“At eight o’clock they were ready for her and I wandered round the hospital aimlessly.
“We went to see her in intensive care afterwards and Alice was asking for a pork pie and crisps.
“She thought she hadn’t had her operation yet.”
After a tense couple of days her new kidney started to work and Alice was allowed home 10 days after the operation, which was on April 4, 2008.
Just five days later she sat and passed her Sats exams.
From then on it meant a new lease of life for Alice, who previously had to endure years of dialysis to clean her blood.
George, a carpet salesmen, said: “After the operation everything changed. She can go to school every day, go swimming and learn to ride a bike.
“It led to a lot of different things. She has never looked back.”
It also meant that for the first time Alice could eat whatever food she liked.
But in a stroke of bad luck, exactly one year after her transplant, Alice was back in hospital again after developing a dangerous build up of fluid on her brain.
She overcame another gruelling operation and has also battled through bouts of pneumonia and foot and mouth disease.
But Alice was soon on the road to recovery again and has won medals in two Transplant Games and will be in action again at Belfast in August.
Alice has to take up to 13 pills a day, but thanks to her kidney Alice now has a bright future.
Next year she will move up from Clavering Primary School to St Hild’s School.
George added: “She is just a normal happy child and we are all happy to see her that way.
“Considering what she’s been through her outlook is really good.”