A girl left seriously ill when both her kidneys failed astounded medical experts by growing two new ones.
Angel Burton suffered from painful kidney infections from birth to the point where she required surgery at the age of five.
But surgeons were amazed to discover the little girl had four kidneys, with two new fully-formed organs sitting on top of her old ones.
And the new ones had taken over the role of the others, meaning she was effectively ‘cured’ of kidney failure.
Now, three years on, Angel, now eight, is fighting fit and her family are still thankful for the miracle that changed her life.
She has an rare condition known as ‘duplex kidney’ – common to just a handful of people in Britain.
A duplex kidney is fused to the other at the centre and may share or have an independent ureter draining urine to the bladder.
In Angel’s case both her kidneys are ‘duplex’ and fused to the other. Each has a separate ureter, meaning that she has four kidneys and four ureters
Doctors believe the initial scans missed the extra kidneys because they sat immediately on top of each other and would have shown up as one.
Angel’s mother, Claire Burton, 32, from Louth, Lincolnshire gave birth to her daughter in 2001 but within months her baby’s health started to decline.
Doctors performed tests and she was diagnosed with bilateral reflux, which meant that the valves to her bladder weren’t working properly and urine was getting into her kidneys, causing infections.
Angel’s condition continued to be monitored and she was regularly screened for infections and given kidney scans.
On one check-up it was revealed her kidneys had suffered serious scarring and she would have to have an operation.
She underwent surgery at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in October 2007 to create an artificial valve but during the operation doctors spotted the extra kidneys.
Mrs Burton, who has two other children with husband of ten years, Michael, said: ‘They’d been in there an hour and a quarter when the surgeon came out.
He said: ‘We’ve found something very, very strange considering the amount of scans Angel’s had this year.’
‘He went on to explain they’d put a camera in Angel’s bladder so they could repair the valves. They’d found the two openings that were supposed to be there and they’d gone ahead and repaired the two valves.
‘But then they’d found two more openings and when they’d put the camera up, these openings led up to two more perfectly healthy kidneys, just sitting on top of the other ones.
‘He said: ‘They are totally independent. We are just stunned that these have never been picked up on a scan. She’s been having intensive scanning for five years and they’ve never shown up. It looks like the healthy ones have taken over.”
She said: ‘It’s a real miracle. It’s absolutely amazing that none of her earlier scans picked the extra kidneys up. We’re just so grateful to have Angel back to her happy, healthy self.’
With her extra kidneys doing all the work of her old ones, Angel, now eight, is fully recovered and looking forward to a healthy future.
Prasad Godbole, consultant paediatric urologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who operated on Angel said: ‘I was surprised we had one (a duplex) in Angel because none of the previous x-rays had shown that. Sometimes you could miss it but I was surprised because looking at all the previous x-rays there was no suggestion of this. Her kidneys are working fine.’