Boy, eight, needed kidney transplant after catching E.coli ‘during country walk’

An eight-year-old boy needed lifesaving surgery after he and his brother caught E.coli – which their parents believe may have been from a countryside walk in the Highlands.

Leo McFaulds needed a kidney transplant from his mum after he and brother Samuel, aged four, became ill with the disease.

E. coli causes Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) – an illness which affects the blood and blood vessels, resulting in anaemia and kidney failure.

The siblings became seriously ill in May 2020 which their parents believe may have occurred after a walk in the Scottish Highlands.

The family, from Elgin, Moray, relocated to Glasgow where the boys were treated at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) – one of only two children’s kidney transplant centres in the UK able to maintain a full schedule of renal transplants throughout the pandemic.

Samuel made a recovery after being treated with dialysis.

But Leo was in hospital for more than two months before being moved onto three times weekly kidney dialysis in August and medics knew he would need a renal transplant.

Mum Louise was a perfect match and the transplant took place on February 10.

“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.

“I was naturally over the moon when we found I was a match, and despite the pandemic, from then on everything in the transplant work up process seemed to go like clock-work.

“Leo will always have kidney disease, and Samuel 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 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.”

Dr Ben Reynolds, consultant paediatric nephrologist at 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.

“Transplant is almost always the best thing for any child on dialysis.

“The change to the kidney opt-out scheme in Scotland at the end of the 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.”