11-year-old John – who his family describe as “their little miracle” – is relishing being able to ride a bike along with his friends thanks to his adapted Tomcat trike.
John’s mum Julie, says:
“It was a bit of a surprise when we found out I was expecting John. We already had a teenager son Callum, and daughter, Zoe. So when we found out at the 20-week scan that John had spina bifida it was a shock to the system. Of course, we’d heard of spina bifida but we didn’t really know what it meant for our baby straight away. I had a very difficult pregnancy, and when John arrived five weeks early he wasn’t breathing,
“Officially he wasn’t alive for 20 minutes, but the doctors worked hard to revive him and thank goodness he finally came around. At one point we didn’t think we’d get to bring him home. It was the scariest thing we’ve ever been through.”
Babies born with spina bifida, ordinarily have an operation within 48 hours of being born to put the spinal cord and any exposed tissues or nerves back in place. The gap in the spine is then closed surgically.
Remarkably, despite his start in life, John picked up quickly and was well enough to undergo surgery to close the opening in his spine at just 24 hours old.
“That wasn’t the last of his procedures though. At 16-days-old John had a shunt inserted and he’s since had four operations on his brain. After about ten weeks we were finally able to take him home on oxygen, but it was a waiting game. We had no idea what his prospects were, we just had to wait and see.
“We were told he may never walk or talk, but here we are 11 years on and he can walk with splints and, boy, can he talk! He really has defied all odds. Even his neurosurgeon called him his ‘miracle child’, and that’s exactly what he is – a miracle and a shining light in all our lives.
“John has amazed us all. He has his challenges of course, but he is a very determined and stubborn little boy who won’t let anything stand in his way. Whenever someone tells John he can’t do something, he won’t stop until he proves them wrong.
“We’ve never wanted to put John in a box and say ‘you can’t do this, or that’ because of his disability. He loves to sing and dance, he enjoys fly fishing and can even drive a boat.. We’ve always encouraged John to give everything a go, and he was so desperate to ride a bike with his friends and nephews. This trike means he can join in and be included in the fun.
“Our world was rocked by John’s untimely arrival. The future looked scary and uncertain at times, but he has brightened up all our lives. When he moved on to high school this year, all his teachers were sobbing to see him go. That’s the sort of person he is. He really does make an impression on everyone he meets, and he’s certainly made us realise you should never take anything for granted.
“He’s a cheeky little chap, full of attitude and an absolute character, which is what we love about him!”
To watch a video o John riding his adapted trike, click below!
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