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Kidney donor mum and son take on world on skis

When Alex Baddock’s kidneys failed, his mother did what most parents would do and donated one of hers.

But he had to wait until he was three for a transplant, meaning he spent much of his early life on dialysis and needing overnight care.

Simply living a normal life was the aim and now, nine years on, 12-year-old Alex and mum Julie, from Ruthin, Denbighshire, are to celebrate their unique bond through one of their passions – skiing.

They will take on competitors from around the world on the slopes at the World Transplant Winter Games, external in Bormio, Italy, which starts on Sunday.

Alex, who will compete in events including the giant slalom, started skiing when he was four, just one year after his transplant.

Even being able to take to the slopes at all was more than parents Julie and Howard could have imagined following his birth.

At three days old he was transferred to Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, where they have a specialist kidney unit.

“There were moments when we would hope that Alex would be OK, and all the treatments would be fine,” said Julie, 47.

“Other times the enormity of what lay ahead would hit us and we were completely floored by the thought of it all.”

The first few years involved infusion therapy, and when his kidneys failed, he had to have regular dialysis.

He would need a transplant to live a normal life, and after testing, it was found that his parents were matches.

However, he had to wait until he was tall enough to accept an adult organ.

This moment came when Alex was three.

Describing the relief of this, Julie said: “Life was restricted, particularly for Alex in the last year when he was on dialysis.

“He was really restricted in terms of how much liquid he could have. Eating was also an issue as we had to purée everything.”

In January 2015, they were told about the planned operation and Julie admitted being racked with nerves, worrying about something going wrong.

She described waking in the early hours of the morning after the transplant, phoning through to intensive care and feeling huge relief that everything had gone to plan

After a couple of days, Alex had the “most energy he’d ever had” and was acting like a lively three-year-old boy, Julie added.

“It’s amazing how quickly things just improved, it was just a complete transformation,” she said.

Alex and Julie made an incredible recovery and six months later, took part in the British Transplant Games in Newcastle.

“We get to know other families and catch up with them every year. We bounce ideas around or share experiences with each other,” said Julie.

“It’s such a great peer support to have.”

Alex said that competing in the games against other children his age reminds him that he is “not the only one” and that “loads of other people” have been through transplants.

They will join hundreds of others from 21 countries in Italy, competing in slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom and Super G, while Julie will be ski racing.

The World Transplant Winter games take place every two years and are open to anyone who has received a solid organ transplant including liver, heart, lung, kidney, pancreas or bone marrow.

The British team includes 19 people who have had transplants, eight live donors and three donor family members.

Team manager Lynn Holt said: “They (Alex and Julie) are both fit and able to ski and enjoy life.

“I am confident that they will be taking home some medals.”