Family life blown into a million pieces when young brothers suffer kidney failure from E.Coli
A mum who donated a kidney to her young son after he and his brother became seriously ill with E.Coli has become a community ambassador for Kidney Research UK.
Leo and Sam McFaulds were struck down by the same infectious disease after a walk in the Scottish Highlands.
It caused Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) - in both boys an illness which affects the blood, resulting in anaemia and kidney failure.
Sam, four, recovered kidney function after three dialysis sessions and now needs regular checks but eight-year-old Leo became so ill his kidneys could barely function.
From healthy family to frightening unknown
Leo was in hospital for nine weeks and continued dialysis for nine months before mum Louise stepped in as a perfect kidney donor match. Transplant surgery went ahead in February this year.
Now, mum Louise, a primary school teacher, wants to highlight the need for kidney research to find better treatments and one day a cure for kidney disease.
Louise, of Elgin, said: "To have both boys struck down with the same illness and needing lifesaving treatment at the same time was awful for our family.
“It came on so suddenly. We went from a healthy family enjoying life to a frightening situation where both boys were really sick and we had no idea how our story would end.
"Thankfully Sam recovered relatively quickly, but Leo went from being a typical happy, healthy boy, to being completely hospital-bound and unable to fully engage with normal life.
"But his bravery and optimism through this has been inspiring."
Family relocated 200 miles for treatment
The family relocated nearly 200 miles from Elgin, Moray, to Glasgow so the boys could be treated at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC).
Dad Anthony McFaulds said: “This has been devastating for our family. We both immediately were tested to see if we were a match to donate to Leo, and amazingly we both were but, Louise was an even better match than myself and so our minds were made up."
He added: "It was scary seeing two people you love so much go through major surgery on the same day but thankfully the amazing staff in the NHS made us feel they that were in safe hands and it all went well."
"Our beautiful, peaceful family life felt like it was blown up into a million pieces. Now our job is putting it back together again piece by piece."
Leo has a life again
Louise continued: "Life after transplant is not easy, but it’s a million times better than seeing your child on dialysis. Leo has a life again and we are making the most of every wonderful moment together.
“Our dream is that one day a transplant will be a cure for kidney disease and that recipients do not have to live with the fear of rejection in future. Kidney Research is vital and we will make it our mission to support them in any way we can moving forward.
“Donating a kidney has been one of the privileges of my life and I’ll never be able to thank enough, the wonderful medical team in Glasgow who made it happen."
Celebrating the milestones
Louise continued: " I was so happy when I found out I was a match. Leo will always have kidney disease, and Sam and myself will have follow up for some time to come.
"We know there will be bumps in the road ahead, but to look back to a year ago to compare where we are now it’s a miracle really.
"Leo 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.
"Seeing both our children desperately ill with a rare disease and then learning that your child has a lifelong condition is devastating. Life will never be the same for us.
Fund raising for research
"The renal teams across the UK need all the support and funding that we can give them, in order that treatments, drugs and mental health services can continue be improved in the future. We must end kidney disease and it starts with each and every one of us.”
Meanwhile, Anthony’s workplace R Stahl Ltd arranged a fundraising event where 21 employee volunteers walked a collective 793 miles to raise more than £2,600 for Kidney Research UK and they already have their next event planned! Find out more by following this link
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