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I'm nearly 21 - but I will always be the girl who's allergic to water; EXCLUSIVE HEALTH: Child who hid from the rain now a woman who wants a family.

Byline: By Steve Johnson

SHE was the girl who touched the hearts of people across the country as she fought a rare life-threatening allergy to water.

Now Heidi Falconer has blossomed into a beautiful young woman.

Heidi, believed to be the only child in the world born allergic to water, is now approaching her 21st birthday.

Despite her life-threatening condition, aquagenic urticaria, which could cause her to go into potentially fatal anaphylactic shock, cheerful Heidi is determined to live life to the full.

Heidi, who used to live in Tividale, in the heart of the Black Country, but is now settled happily with her family in deepest Shropshire, revealed she is in a long-term relationship with her "guardian angel" Kenny Edwards, aged 23.

They plan to set up home together soon and Heidi, 21 in April, said she would love to get married and have children.

Heidi, whose condition made her the centre of national attention when she was a child, is now a confident young woman and has set up her own mobile beauty therapy business.

But she still has to keep a wary eye on the weather - she will not go out in the rain - and cannot even drink water because of the possibility of going into shock.

All Heidi can do is drink small amounts of pure orange juice or milk.

She is also allergic to her own bodily fluids, which can leave her with nasty blisters when they come into contact with her skin.

But Heidi is an inspiration to others as she goes about her daily life.

"I know I have to be careful and wary all the time and sometimes it's a struggle," she said.

"But I try to live my life the best way I can. Kenny and I have been in a relationship for about three years and he is golden to me.

"I have dreams of getting married and having children. My condition is something I have to live with, but I feel I have come to terms with it.

"It would be great to live normally just like everyone else, but I know that can't happen."

Heidi has to apply a special cream from Sweden all over her body in a daily routine, and if she gets caught in the rain she always dives for cover.

But she tries to live as independently as possible, and now has her own car.

A long-awaited book about her lifelong struggles, called It's Only Water, is finally set to be published.

Proud mum Wendy, aged 47, said: "We have always been very protective towards Heidi, since the day she was born.

"But she is almost 21 now and wants to do her own thing, setting up her own home with Kenny, getting married and having kids.

"She has grown into an attractive young woman and we are very proud of her."

More pictures

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IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY.... Heidi Falconer, now nearly 21, with her beauty therapy kit. Right, young Heidi covers up in 1998. Main picture: Sam Bagnall Photo ref: SB140208Heidi-07; SHELTER.. Heidi's trusty umbrella.; PROUD MUM... Wendy with Heidi.; INDOORS... Heidi watches the rain
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 19, 2008
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