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Andy gets on his bike to fight childhood liver disease

A devoted grandfather from Fochabers in Moray is in training for a 180K cycle ride to raise funds for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF). As Andy Adam’s daughter, Emma, came to terms with the fact that both her young children had a rare liver condition, the 61 year-old decided it was time to turn his cycling hobby into a fundraiser.

“The first inkling I had that my elder son Logan (now three) was unwell was when his baby jaundice did not clear up,” explains Emma who lives in Elgin. “He was also slow to gain weight so my health visitor sent us up to the hospital to see what the paediatrican thought. After numerous tests, when he was just six weeks old, he was diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an incurable condition which can cause damage to a child’s liver and lungs, and something I had never heard of. I will never forget that day, I felt scared, upset and so helpless – I couldn’t help fearing the worst. The health professionals were amazing though, giving us information to read and telling us about the support available from Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.

“Armed with this information my partner, Luke, and I decided to have genetic testing, which revealed that we both carried MZ genes and consequently a one in four chance of other children having alpha-1. So, when Corey was born last year, a blood sample was taken at birth and when he was three weeks old, we got the news that he had the same condition as his older brother. We both took this news harder than we thought we would, I think we had convinced ourselves that Corey wouldn’t have it. We do however, feel very lucky that, other than their daily medication and six monthly blood tests and scans, both boys currently live very normal lives and we hope this continues.

“The support from Children’s Liver Disease Foundation means a lot to me. I was pregnant with Corey during the first lockdown last year and I suffered with anxiety both during and after my pregnancy – I really feared the boys catching Covid. I sought advice from Kate, CLDF’s families officer, which was a real help. I also like reading stories of other children with alpha 1 on the charity’s website or Facebook page. It gives me hope for the future.

“So I was thrilled when my dad said he wanted to do Ride the North to raise funds for CLDF. My sons adore their Grampa and I know he would do anything for his grandchildren. He’s already hit his £500 fundraising target. Now we want to raise as much as we can to ensure the charity can continue to be here for my boys and other children like them.”

Andy Adam is training hard for Ride the North.

Ride the North, a cycling challenge around the Grampian Highlands, takes place on August 28 this year. Andy has previously taken part as a personal challenge, but this year is all about raising funds and awareness for a charity which means so much to his family. There are three route options and Andy’s chosen the longest one – 112 miles.

His grandchildren Corey (left) and Logan who have inspired him.

“I know it’s going to be arduous, but this is an important cause,” says Andy. “In addition to the information and support which my daughter has been given, the charity funds research into rare liver diseases and that’s important to me. I’d like to think that one day there will be a cure for alpha-1 and the other rare diseases which affect children. This is my contribution to helping make that happen and I just want to raise as much as I can.”

Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation commented: “We’re the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases and we rely on voluntary donations, so we are delighted to hear that Andy is taking on Ride the North. What a wonderful thing to do for your grandchildren. We wish him all the best for August 28.”

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