A PLUCKY child given just a 20 per cent chance of surviving when he was born is taking part in a charity event for the hospital that has cared for him.
Alex Malli, who suffers from bilateral glaucoma, left-side blindness, global development delay and autism, is taking part in the Race for the Kids 5km run in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
The four-year-old has been a regular patient at the children's hospital since he was born - suffering from a potentially fatal gut infection, fighting chronic lung disease, undergoing 27 operations and enduring 13 blood transfusions. All of the operations were related to his bilateral glaucoma, which blocks the flow of fluid in and out of the eye and can lead to blindness.
Alex has had three operations on his right eye and 24 on his left. However, the condition of his left eye deteriorated to the extent it has had to be replaced with a prosthetic eye.
Lesley Malli, Alex's mum, said: "Alex was born three months premature and the doctors told me there was only a 20 per cent chance he would survive.
"The people at Great Ormond Street have truly been magnificent in helping Alex and as a family we want to do anything we can to support them.
"Thankfully, our visits have slowed down a bit now to only once every three months, rather than weekly.
"Despite the doctors' best efforts to save his sight, and they were brilliant, he lost all vision in his left eye.
"The eye just gave up in the end and had to be replaced with a prosthetic and this means his balance is off."
Alex spent the first five months of his life in hospital.
When he was allowed to be brought home to his family in Northgate, he was on a constant oxygen supply for another year.
Alex has now started school and has been a pupil at Manor Green Primary School, in Ifield, since September.
This will be the third time that Alex and his mum have taken part in the fundraiser.
Mrs Malli said: "I will either push Alex round in his pushchair or carry him on my shoulders for most of the time but he always insists on walking over the finish line by himself.
"The first year we took part we raised £250 and then last year we collected £1,000. If we could match or beat that it would be fantastic for the hospital."
Thousands of people are expected to take part in the fun run in London's Battersea Park on June 24.
To support Alex, visit www.raceforthekids.co.uk and search for "alexi" in the "sponsor a friend or family" section.