Hartlepool transplant teenager celebrates milestone birthday after life-changing operation

Transplant patient Alice Skinner celebrates her 18th birthday with best friends from left Abi Hall and Rachael Atherton
Transplant patient Alice Skinner celebrates her 18th birthday with best friends from left Abi Hall and Rachael Atherton

A Hartlepool teenager who came close to death many times as a child has celebrated another big milestone in her life – turning 18.

Alice Skinner was born without properly formed kidneys due to a condition that affects only one in a million children in the UK.

Alice Skinner in hospital at Christmas before she had her transplant operation

Alice Skinner in hospital at Christmas before she had her transplant operation

She spent years having hours of daily dialysis until a suitable donor was found aged seven in 2008.

Yesterday Alice, of Clavering, officially became an adult.

It is another big step her family feared they may never see along with leaving school and going to her school prom.

Alice said: “I don’t really feel any different; it’s just a momentous occasion after everything I have been through.”

Proud mum Nicola Frankland said: “It’s brilliant. There’s a lot of times I don’t think we thought we would see this day.

“I can’t believe it’s here.”

Alice spent her big day at Hartlepool Sixth Form College where she is studying a BTEC in health and Social Care.

She hopes to become a children’s nurse after being inspired by the care she received over the years.

Some of the nurses who have cared for her are going to her birthday party at the weekend.

Born in 2001 by emergency Caesarean section, Alice’s kidneys had failed to develop in the womb and her body slowly poisoned itself.

She was initially able to live thanks to a tiny surviving piece of kidney.

At six months old, Alice became Britain’s youngest kidney dialysis patient and for years she spent 10 hours a day on dialysis until 2008 when she was rushed to hospital for her transplant after four years on the waiting list.

Alice remembers the day well.

“I just remember being picked up from school and told it was an appointment,” she said. “Then when I got to hospital being told there was a possibility it was going ahead.”

Despite several setbacks over the years and dozens of operations, the transplant was a success.

Alice has to take between 15-20 tablets a day to prevent her body from rejecting the kidney.

They also have the effect of suppressing her immune system and last week she spent a week in hospital with a bug.

But Alice’s general health is good. Nicola added: “She tries to stay as healthy and keep her kidney hydrated as much as possible. She’s just like any other teenager really.”