A BOY who it was feared might not survive after he was born with serious complications is preparing for his first day at school after confounding medical opinion.
Consultants treating Altham youngster Jack Barnes warned he might never walk or talk, but after years of intensive support he is on course to lead a full and active life.
Back in 2004 the Observer reported how three-month-old Jack had finally been allowed home following a seven-hour operation to rebuild his bowel. He was also born with kidney and windpipe problems and a hole in the heart.
Jack’s condition has never been fully diagnosed but after years of intensive physiotherapy and occupational, speech and language therapies, the four-year-old is now looking forward to starting at Altham St James’ Primary in September.
Mum Heather, of Altham Lane, explained that when Jack was younger doctors had warned he might never sit up and had offered to measure him for a wheelchair, but she had refused.
She said: "He’s done everything they said he wouldn’t do and he’s getting better and better.
"I just hope it shows parents they shouldn’t always take the experts’ word for it. If we had, he might never have walked."
She added: "He’s not really ready for school yet because he’s 12 to 18 months short but I’ve been assured that the sooner he starts the better."
Much of Jack’s development has been achieved with the support of Pendlebury Children’s Hospital, Manchester, and Victoria Nursery School in Accrington, where he has been since he was a baby.
Genevra Whittle, nursery manager and special needs co-ordinator, said staff would be very sorry to see him leave.
She said: "I think it has been remarkable the way he has progressed. His parents are hard-working people and if you make an issue out of a disability you can actually increase the disability.
"Everybody has invested time in him but he has been treated like any other child at the nursery.
"His character shines through whatever he does and he’s such a lovely little boy. He is determined that whatever you throw in front of him to try, eventually he will succeed.
"He didn’t do things at the normal milestones that other children do, but it came."
Dad Stuart is a farmer and Jack loves spending time with the farm animals.
Heather added: "He loves being on the farm and around the cows and sheep.
"I have bought him some chickens. He collects the eggs and they will hopefully help him progress."