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Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Karate black belt for Uckfield boy with health problems
Alex Haynes
Alex Haynes will go back to hospital to have another heart operation

Born prematurely and with severe health difficulties life was always going to be tough for Alex Haynes.

But the 11-year-old has defied the odds and has just gained his karate black belt.

Alex, from Uckfield, has had several operations to help him overcome his health problems over the course of his life.

He started the martial art five years ago to help him improve his coordination, balance and stamina.

Alex, who trains at the Sama South East Karate Club, in Manor Primary School, Uckfield, said: "We had to go through quite a lot of belts - it took pretty much ages and was very hard work.

"Because of my heart problems it has not been easy, so to get it is quite a big achievement."


Within hours of Alex's birth he had to have surgery to separate his wind pipe from his oesophagus.

Alex's father, Clive, said: "He had to have open heart surgery about six months later. His pulmonary artery wasn't big enough and he couldn't support himself.

Alex Haynes as baby
Alex was born four weeks premature

"On from that they found his kidney needed taking out, so when he was seven he had it removed."

He was born four weeks premature and weighed under four pounds, but for the past five years he has been focusing on getting his black belt.

Karate has helped improve his balance and co-ordination and helped to build up his stamina.

Alex's karate teacher, George Asargiotakis, said: "It takes about over an hour to do a black belt grade and at the end it's ten minutes of stamina. To have that you do pretty well."

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