TWO toddlers born with kidney failure are together battling their way recovery after a chance meeting of their loved ones in hospital.

The families of Christopher Richards, who is 15-months-old, and 19-month-old Ethan Davies live just roads apart in Launton, near Bicester.

But it wasn't until they were both rushed to hospital in London last year - just days old - that their families would meet.

Christopher was born at the John Radcliffe Hospital on June 19 with posterior urethral valves, and at that point his parents Martin and Rebbecca were unaware of the serious problem with his kidneys.

Mrs Richards said: "We had to say goodbye several times to him at his bedside, to the extent that nurses would offer to get our drinks in case he wasn't with us when we came back.

"It was four days before they realised it was his kidneys and he was transferred straight to Great Ormond Street Hospital."

The family of four said they felt 'vulnerable' and lonely' facing Christopher's diagnosis but after asking staff if their were any other babies on the ward found out about Ethan and his parents facing the same battle.

Ethan was born to parents James and Nicola at just 28 weeks on March 20, after undergoing surgery twice in the womb, also with kidney failure.

He is the youngest of their five children: 16-year-old Tom, four-year-old Chloe, 14-year-old Ben and eight-year-old Georgia.

Mr Davies said: "We found out at the 20-week scan there was an issue and we didn't know if he was going to survive.

"The main issue was his kidneys and because he was born early he spent months at the John Radcliffe before being transferred to London."

The toddlers now face the battle to get better together and alongside several surgeries and a medley of medication, and each have to have almost 12 hours of dialysis every day.

But together the families are working towards finding out if both dads are a kidney donor match.

Unlike other types of organ donation, it's possible to donate a kidney as a living donor, and the families are campaigning to raise awareness of this.

According to the NHS, 37 people in Oxfordshire are currently waiting for a kidney transplant, with a further seven waiting for a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant.

Mrs Richards, who was told she was not a donor match to her son Christopher, said: "We have been and still are on a rollercoaster, of the worst kind.

"Christopher has had eight operations and has another two booked as we are working up towards transplant.

“My husband is hoping to donate as I am not a blood match.

“We wanted to raise awareness around organ donation as the fact I'm unable to directly donate and my husband could just as easily be ruled out at any point, it really frightens me.”

Mr Davies, who is also being tested as a possible match for his son Ethan, said: "A donor will obviously save Ethan’s life at some point as he can’t stay on dialysis for the rest of his life.

“Obviously I am hoping to donate, but you try not to think about the alternative.

“So many things might rule me out and the chance of finding someone who is a match and healthy enough is obviously slimmer if people aren’t signed up.”

Mrs Richards, a photographer, has pictured the pair for the campaign hooked up to their all-too familiar dialysis machine.

She also put out a Facebook plea to the Bicester community for crocheted kidneys both to familiarise the boys with their diagnosis as well as use for the 'don't throw your organs away' campaign.

She said: "The response was overwhelming and inspirational.

"We had so many people offering support and had kidneys posted through my door daily for the week after."

Both families have shared the youngsters' stories to raise awareness and encourage more people to sign up as donors.

Commenting on the latest move from Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for an opt-out process for organ donation, Mr Davies added: "The news is of course amazing to those of us who either are waiting for a transplant or know someone who needs one."

Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and nursing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "Although we have seen an overall rise in organ donor numbers in the last decade, and thousands of lives are saved each year thanks to organ donation, there is still a shortage of lifesaving donors, for both children and adult patients.

"Children who become donors can save and improve the lives of people of all ages. We are incredibly grateful to parents who agree to donate and save the lives of desperately ill people."