WATCH: Boy with rare condition starts first day of primary school

Xander Pickering (left), with his brothers Jacob and Theo, on his first day of school.
Xander Pickering (left), with his brothers Jacob and Theo, on his first day of school.

Xander Pickering wanted nothing more than to go to school with his big brothers, Jacob and Theo.

“He’s been talking about it since, I don’t know, months and months,” explained his mom, Kiera Pickering. But not only did she worry that Xander would get bullied if she sent him to school, Xander also simply couldn’t go to school with his rare, life-threatening condition. Because Xander was just an hour old when a nurse noticed he didn’t have an opening in his bottom. It’s known as imperforated anus, and means he's subsequently unable to pass waste.

What is an imperforated anus?

Imperforated anus is a congenital defect, that is a defect that is present from birth, and means there is no opening from the rectum to the anus, or it’s blocked.

According to MedlinePlus, the condition is caused by abnormal development of the foetus and may occur in several forms

  • If the rectum ends in a pouch that does not connect with the colon;
  • If the rectum has openings to other structures, such as the urethra, bladder, base of the penis in boys or vagina in girls;
  • If, as in Xander’s case, there is narrowing stenosis of the anus or no anus at all.

As a result, Xander has had 5 major operations since he was born.

Xander’s first day of school

At 4 years old, Xander now has an ACE stoma. An antegrade colonic anema (ACE) is a procedure that is designed to empty the bowel by using fluid, similar to an enema, that is inserted into a small artificial opening (stoma) in the side of the abdomen, rather than the rectum, which allows Xander to pass waste.

So after months of asking when he’ll be “big enough”, according to mom Kiera, Xander can finally attend “big school”.

“It is just a concern if he were to have problems,” says his mom, and of course, as any parent would, she worries about how his classmates would react should there be any. But she says she's nevertheless very excited for him.

She continues, “He’s been through so much and he’s such a trooper, he’ll get through it. Anything that life throws at him he gets through.

“I know he’ll be fine."

Does your child have a rare condition or disease? Would you like to share your story and journey with us to help create awareness and break the stigma? Send to us at and we may publish it.

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