By the time Alex Skidmore arrived into the world, his parents already knew that he had serious health problems.
Alex’s kidneys had been damaged before birth by an obstruction in his posterior urethral valve. This led to a lack of amniotic fluid in utero causing his lungs to be underdeveloped and a case of bilateral hip dysplasia.
In June 2002, at age two, Alex received his first kidney transplant, courtesy of his grandmother Clarice. Eight years later, his body rejected the kidney and Alex desperately needed another one.
At the time, the new Living Donor Paired Exchange (LDPE) kidney transplant registry had just launched. The Canadian program facilitates donations between patients who have an incompatible donor volunteer, with other pairs in the same position. Alex’s father Garry was incompatible with Alex — so father and son decided to join the LDPE to both donate a kidney and find a kidney for Alex. They were successfully paired and Alex’s second transplant took place in June 2011.
Alex spent about a week in hospital, where staff monitored his water intake and output to ensure kidney function. Today, at 14, he visits BC Children’s Hospital every three months and is on three medications to prevent rejection of the kidney.
“It goes on for life – the monitoring and the medication – and they adjust dosages over time,” says Alex’s mother, Kirsten. “But things have been going really well – and I know a lot of things can go wrong.”
Because he had the transplant, Alex doesn’t need dialysis. However, his doctor advises him to restrict activities, such as hockey, even though he’s got a mean wrist shot. The teen also enjoys playing basketball and snowboarding.
“He has never let it stop him,” Kirsten says of Alex’s health setback. “He doesn’t know any different. He just does what he does.”