Teenager celebrates 10th ‘Hemiversary’ as father raises money for hospital

Thomas Cotton with his father James, and Mr Raman Dakshman, consultant, and Paula Olsen, paediatric sister, who cared for Thomas at the West Suffolk Hospital, holding the cheque for £1,598.59 for the My WiSH Charity. Photo: My WiSH Charity.

Teenage miracle boy Thomas Cotton, described by his father as an “average teenager”, has just celebrated a poignant anniversary.

For the amazing 14-year-old, who lives in Old Newton, has marked his landmark 10th “Hemiversary”.

Like most youngsters of his age he loves gaming on his X Box and is a big Ipswich Town supporter. 

He is an Army Cadet and his father James said Thomas’ favourite pastime is emptying his and his wife Joanne’s bank account so he can wear the latest T shirt or some “fresh trainers”. 

But Thomas, who is a pupil at Thurston Community College, has half a brain.

Ten years ago, on November 15, 2012, he had a hemispherectomy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London. 

His 44-year-old father said: “This extremely invasive surgery cured Thomas of his uncontrollable epileptic seizures but has left him with left sided hemiplegia. A permanent disability affecting his ability to use his left leg and arm to their full potential. 

“It’s incredible to think our family, led by Thomas’s indomitable appetite for life, are now 10 years into a journey we never expected. Thomas’s passion for life inspire’s me every day; his infectious laughter, permanent smile and wicked sense of humour leave anyone who meets him wanting more.”

They are regular visitors to the West Suffolk Hospital’s Rainbow Ward and after James won a ballot to take part in the London Marathon he decided to repay the dedicated and loving care his son and the rest of his family received from hospital staff by running for the My WiSH Charity, which supports the work of the hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

He completed the route in five hours and 30 minutes raising a total of £1,589.59 and said the day was “overwhelming” for him.

James, who works for the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron, at RAF Lakenheath, paid tribute to the West Suffolk by saying: “The care provided is exceptional and they have been really great to us but especially to Thomas who is truly my inspiration.”

He said his son, who he described as a “miracle” lad, was born without any problems and was the “perfect child” but he became steadily ill when he was two-and-a-half and started to suffer from epileptic seizures eventually having attacks 24 hours a day.

“We have wonderful friends, family and colleagues who have helped Thomas over the years and it’s those same people who have raised over £1,500 for the wonderful Rainbow Ward at West Suffolk Hospital. I am so thankful to them for their support,” said James.

The charity managed to reunite Thomas and James with Paula Olsen, paediatric sister, who has cared for the youngster over the years.

Sally Daniels, fundraising manager for My WiSH, said: “It was a pleasure to meet Thomas; he is an amazing young man. So many staff recognised him on the ward including Mr Dakshman who hadn’t seen him for a while and was amazed by how grown up he now is. The money raised by James is just fantastic and will help the ward to enhance the care of their young patients.”

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