Watch inspirational four-year-old with rare condition arrive for first day of school
- Credit: PA
An inspirational four-year-old boy who has endured five major operations in his lifetime has marked his first day at primary school – much to the delight of family and friends.
Alexander Pickering, known as Xander, was just an hour old when a nurse at Colchester Hospital noticed there was no opening in his bottom, meaning he could not pass waste.
He was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening condition, called an imperforated anus, which puts the infant at risk of infection and possible perforation of the bowel if left untreated.
Xander, who lives in Little Clacton, was taken to the Royal London Children’s Hospital at one day old for an operation to create a colostomy.
Since then, he has been back for four further surgeries – and used a colostomy bag for 15 months before a second operation created an opening in his bottom.
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During his most recent surgery in June, an ACE stoma bag was created meaning he can pass waste at home daily.
Now the youngster, who lives with father Mark Pickering, 37, mother Kiera Pickering, 32, and his brothers Jacob, eight, and Theo, seven, has reached a major milestone.
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“Xander is really looking forward to starting school because he wants to be a ‘big boy’ like his brothers,” said Mrs Pickering, a doctor’s surgery receptionist, as her youngest son joined his two brothers at Engaines Primary School yesterday.
“For months, he’s been telling us that he is getting taller and asking whether he is big enough to go to school yet.
“Starting school is a huge milestone for us.”
Mr Pickering said Xander’s condition was “life-changing” but they had got used to life with it.
“He knows everything he goes through,” he said. “We don’t hide anything from him.
“We’re not looking for sympathy – it’s just to make people aware.”
He added: “In himself he’s amazing, he’s magical.
“He does everything everyone else can do. Nothing can stop him.
“He’s been out learning to ride his bike without stabilisers.”
The family were supported with accommodation by The Sick Children’s Trust throughout Xander’s hospital treatment, and Mrs Pickering said she feels “so grateful” to them.
According to NHS data, anorectal malformations affect around one in 5,000 babies.