London -

A seven-year-old girl has been saved by a kidney transplant from her 60-year-old grandmother - the biggest age gap for a donation in the UK.

Eva Dowling was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening illness at three months old.

Her condition, atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome, causes clots to block blood vessels and can lead to kidney failure. Unable to eat or drink and needing frequent blood transfusions, Eva had to be fed through a tube in her stomach and spent three days a week in hospital.

Doctors feared she would never be able to have a kidney transplant because of the blood transfusions, which drastically increased the chance her body would reject a donated organ. But when her grandmother Eileen Smith-Jones was found to be a perfect match, Eva’s life was transformed.

“I can survive quite nicely with one kidney and the difference in Eva is incredible,” said Smith-Jones.

“She is livelier, happier and able to do things she has never done before. We are so happy.”

Now Eva, who calls her new kidney “Miss Kitty”, can enjoy her food and says she loves chocolate and porridge. She needs a check-up just once a fortnight, meaning she can attend school full-time for the first time.

Smith-Jones has also recovered well after the operation.

“Unfortunately giving a kidney didn’t make me any lighter,” she said. “But my cravings for chocolate and red wine have gone.”

Eva’s mother Nicola Dowling, 34, said: “How can you ever thank someone for what she did?

“It has made the world of difference to Eva and the whole family. She can now live a normal life.”

A spokesman for the Human Tissue Authority said an age gap of this size between donor and recipient was very rare. There are only a few cases of grandparents donating to their grandchildren each year. - Daily Mail