An eight-year-old boy who fell severely ill with kidney failure is “back on his feet and full of energy” after having a successful transplant from his mother.
Leo McFaulds, a “typical happy, healthy boy” from Elgin in Moray contracted an E.coli infection along with his brother Samuel, four, in May last year and the pair developed a rare and life-threatening disease.
Both boys were struck down by haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which leads to anaemia and kidney shutdown, and were urgently transferred to the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) in Glasgow for life-saving dialysis.
Samuel made a full recovery but Leo remained in hospital for months and required dialysis three times a week.
His mother Louise, 40, then had one of her kidneys removed and transplanted successfully into her son in mid-February.
Mrs McFaulds and the boys’ father, sales engineer Anthony 46, believe the children may have contracted E.coli on a countryside walk in the Highlands.
Primary school teacher Mrs McFaulds said: “To have both boys struck down with the same illness and both having life-saving treatment at the same time was harrowing.
“It was an awful time for our family as it came on so suddenly.
“Thankfully Samuel recovered relatively quickly, but Leo went from being a typical happy, healthy boy, who played in the garden with his brother and attended school, to being completely hospital-bound and unable to fully engage with normal life.
“But his bravery and optimism through this has been inspiring.”
The family had to move to Glasgow while Leo was treated but both Mrs McFaulds and her son are now said to be recovering well, with the youngster eager to rejoin his classmates soon.
The successful surgery marks the 12th paediatric kidney transplant at the RHC in the past 12 months, where surgeries have kept pace with pre-pandemic levels, said the hospital.
Mrs McFaulds praised the “wonderful” doctors and nurses, adding: “Leo will always have kidney disease, and Samuel and myself will have follow-ups for some time to come.
“We know there will be bumps in the road ahead, but to look back six months, to compare where we are now, it’s a miracle really.
“Leo now has his life back and we’ll be counting the small milestones – going back to school, going swimming and maybe even a holiday – as victories and we will never take any of these happy family moments for granted in future.”
Paediatric kidney specialist Dr Ben Reynolds, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, who leads the transplant service, said: “It is fantastic to see Leo recovering well and full of energy again, full of eight-year-old mischief and silliness.
“At RHC we’re lucky to be one of only two children’s kidney transplant centres in the UK able to maintain a full schedule of renal transplants throughout the pandemic.
“This is so important for children like Leo where there is a well matched donor, and the operation means we can get them off dialysis and back to as normal a life as quickly as possible.
“The change to the kidney (donor) opt-out scheme in Scotland at the end of March still relies on people registering their wishes.
“We would always encourage anyone to discuss this with their families and loved ones about giving ‘the gift of life’.”