Lee's zest for life wins award

A BRAVE Ipswich teenager who has undergone two kidney transplants and spent up to two years of his short life in hospital has made it through to the national final of a star-studded charity event.

A BRAVE Ipswich teenager who has undergone two kidney transplants and spent up to two years of his short life in hospital has made it through to the national final of a star-studded charity event.

Lee Mullett, 17, of Wigmore Close, has won the central regional heat of the National Kidney Research Fund's Young Hero Awards and will be one of a dozen youngsters taking part in the national awards ceremony at Planet Hollywood on Thursday .

Two overall winners will each receive £2,000, £1,500 of which goes to a good cause of the children's choice and £500 can be spent as they wish.

Lee, a technology student at Suffolk College, was born with VATER syndrome, which left him with a range of congenital problems, and he has spent much of his childhood at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

In June, he underwent his second kidney transplant after suffering severe complications with the previous one.

However, his proud father, David, said it was not his long battle with illness which had prompted him to nominate him, but his attitude to life.

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"He is a hero. I never believe that a child should be nominated because they are ill," he said. "It's more the way he copes with it that singles him out."

The family estimates that he has spent one-and-a-half to two years of his life in hospital. He had "rough time" after his first transplant, but has still been there for other young patients, helping them to cope with their ordeals, he said.

"He's accepted his disabilities and got on with life," he said. "I could go on and on singing Lee's praises. There are probably many children like Lee who achieve much despite their illnesses. However, he never ceases to amaze me."

He recalled how he talked one child through the operation they were facing.

"Lee spent time sitting and talking to her. I thought that showed a lot of maturity," he said.

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