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Jack says thank you to the surgeons who beat the odds

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A young man from Waterbeach is raising money for the determined doctors who saved his life.

Catherine Kimberley with from left son Dylan, son Jack and husband Martin . Picture: Keith Heppell. (44753224)
Catherine Kimberley with from left son Dylan, son Jack and husband Martin . Picture: Keith Heppell. (44753224)

Jack Kimberley, 20, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy, visual impairment and learning difficulties, was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital last month after weeks of suffering from headaches.

It was soon discovered that a shunt to remove fluid from Jack’s brain needed replacing or he risked suffering a devastating haemorrhage.

“It was pretty horrible because if they don’t get it then it’s life threatening,” his mum Catherine told the Cambridge Independent.

By the age of three, Jack, who was born nine weeks premature in October 2000 at The Rosie, had already undergone 14 brain operations. He had a bleed on the brain after birth.

The shunt, which is placed inside one of the brain’s ventricles, helps prevent pressure from getting too high in the brain and controls
the hydrocephalus he suffered
as a baby.

“We were told that if it didn’t work and there was a further haemorrhage then the outcome would be worse than fatal,” said Catherine. “Because it would just mean that he wouldn’t be him anymore, so he wouldn’t have any of the capacity he has now.

“We would just have a shell of who he was, so there was a determination to get it in the right place.”

Due to the number of operations Jack has undergone on his brain, there was a lot of scar tissue on his ventricle and doctors struggled to replace the shunt.

After three attempts, doctors told the family to prepare for the worst.

“They couldn’t pierce through the scar tissue so that’s why it took so long, but they knew there was a reason why it wasn’t working, and they just kept trying,” Catherine said. “It was a really difficult situation for them in terms of surgery but they wouldn’t give up.

“We just felt like the neurosurgeons are gods that float into the room – they don’t walk.”

She said of Jack: “He’s so strong and brilliant at recovering that you wouldn’t really know now, apart from the haircut!”

So when a friend of Catherine’s -– Jude Habib – decided to offer £50 to friends and associates to use for an act of kindness to mark her 50th birthday, the family decided to use the money to kickstart Jack’s thank-you, which has so far raised more than £1,700 and the total continues to rise.

Jack, who lives in Waterbeach with his mum, dad Martin and brother Dylan, says: “In spite of the procedure being challenging, neurosurgeons Thanasis Paschalis and Alexis Joannides never gave up and did a fantastic job.

“I want to say thank you to the neuro team, the nurses and all the other staff on wards A5 and A3 by doing my first fundraiser. I have decided to raise money in aid of Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.”

Catherine praised the hospital, who despite the challenging circumstances they are working in, did everything they could to accommodate the family and Jack’s needs during his stay in hospital.

“Just watching the doctors and nurses and staff, you know everyone from the cleaners to the healthcare assistants just being so professional, working really hard all against the odds that Covid has brought. We just felt that we wanted to say thank you in the only way we could because we couldn’t buy them flowers. The only thing we can do is maybe make sure that in the future families going in can benefit from fundraising.”

Jack was back in hospital for emergency surgery on Sunday but is back home and recovering well.

To support Jack’s thank you, visit his GoFundMe page.

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