A LITTLE boy who was born with severe kidney problems has received the gift of life from his grandmother.
Jack Cox, was born six weeks early with doctors finding the tiny tot was missing a kidney, with his second functioning at just four per cent.
Julie Cox 59, with her grandson Jack Cox, 3, have a special bond after Julie donated a kidney to the toddler despite the more than half a century age gap
Little Jack struggled with his health for two years until he was given the transplant
While he was able to be brought home two months after his birth, the little boy struggled through the first two years of his life, vomiting between 30 and 40 times a day and even unable to stand due to the pain.
But Jack’s grandmother Julie Cox, said she knew from the moment her grandson was born that she was “destined” to donate her kidney to the little boy.
Julie, or “nanan” as Jack calls her, was found to have an almost perfect match for her grandson, despite the more than half a century age gap between the pair.
Jack Cox would vomit between 30 and 40 times a day, also having to be fed through a tube in his stomach after being born without a kidney
Despite being more than half a century older than her grandson, Julie’s kidney was somehow a perfect match.
Organ donors must share at least three out of six antigens with the person in need, with tests revealing Julie had five out of the six sets of unique genetic markers shared with Jack.
Her kidney was also two thirds the size of a normal adult’s kidney and functioning perfectly, making it just right for Jack.
Julie said: “I just knew it would be me, don’t ask me why but I just had this feeling.
“I even started getting ready to save holiday so I could book time off work because I knew it.
“The surgeons told me this happens more than you think – there’s just something in the genes that tells you.”
But it wasn’t until Jack’s kidney began to fail last Autumn and he was put onto dialysis at the age of just two, most of Jack’s family began to get tested to see if they were a match.
While Jack’s dad Steven, 35, also was found to share the same rare blood type, B positive, it was Julie who was the best match.
The grandmother of seven said: “It was the best match we could have hoped for. The doctors don’t even understand it how it’s possible for me to share that many of sets of genes with him.
“Doctors are often concerned about children receiving adult kidneys, but when they looked at my left kidney it was only two thirds the size of a normal adult kidney but it was doing 45 per cent of the work so was fine.
“And my ureter, which is one of the parts Jack was born without, was longer than normal so it meant it was easier to attach my kidney. I feel like I was born to donate a kidney to Jack.”
After months of tests and waiting, Julie was finally able to donate her kidney to Jack in May this year.
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She said she had not even considered the health implications for herself.
She said: “They test to make sure you’re fit and healthy before you’re very far into this process, but I didn’t even think about my age or anything like that I was so determined to be able to give him my kidney.
“I wasn’t scared before the operation, again because of that determination.”
After some initial medical issues, the transplant has been ruled a success – with Jack now three-years-old and able to run around like other children his age.
Julie said: “It’s been unbelievable. Because he was vomiting so much before Jack had a muslin cloth over his mouth most of the time, and so even though he could talk he didn’t much.
“He also couldn’t stand for long periods of time because he was in so much pain. But now he’s just got so much energy and is running about all the time.
“He’s like any normal three-year-old now, which is something a lot of the family never thought they’d see. When he was born his parents were told to go home and expect the worse, and so for two years every time the phone rang we expected the worst.
“When his aunties and uncles see him now they just burst into tears, because of how bad things were before. In the back of my mind though I always knew that I’d be able to give him a transplant and that he’d make it.”
The age difference between the pair is one of the biggest in the history of UK organ donations
Doctors found that Jack and his grandmother shared five out of six of the same genetic markers, making them a strong match for the transplant
The family of Jack has said they were blown away by the change in Jack, who is now three-years-old
The age gap of 56 years between Julie and Jack is one of the largest ever recorded in the UK.
Jack may need another transplant in the future and will also need to take immunosuppressants for the rest of his life in order to prevent his body from rejecting his kidney.
Julie said more people needed to consider becoming an organ donor.
She said: “I was a live donor and it didn’t hurt me, so it’s not going to hurt you when you’re dead.
“We’re living longer now, but the number of organs being donated is going down.
“here are hundreds of parents and grandparents out there who love their sons and grandsons just as much as we love Jack, but they might not have the same outcome we’ve had because of this which is just heartbreaking to think about.”
The oldest donor age gap in the UK is believed to be 59 years, between grandmother June Cantor, 64, and granddaughter five-year-old Anna Harrison in 2014.
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