Saturday 13 July 2024
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Teenager with a life-limiting muscular disease wins award

A teenager with a life-limiting muscular disease who has overcome multiple hurdles to sit his GCSEs has been recognised with an award.

Aston Walls, aged 16, was perfectly able-bodied until the age of three when he began to lose the ability to use every muscle in his body.

Only four years later Aston was using a powered wheelchair full-time and could no longer lift his arms or sit up unaided.

By the age of 14, his muscles had weakened to such that his spine had curved to over a 90-degree angle due to developing scoliosis.

“I have never really seen it as a barrier. People said it would be harder to do things but I have just tried to do everything normally and tried not to be any different,” said Aston.

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“It has made things harder but I have always tried to find ways around it and ways around my problems so it doesn’t affect me a lot.

“It has made things harder, but I have always tried to find ways around it and ways around my problems.”

Aston’s continued positive attitude, being an inspiration to others and not letting his condition stop him from his education means he embodies the spirit of the awards by living his best life. It has resulted in him being selected as the winner of the Rising Above Adversity Award.

The award forms part of the Live Our Best Life Awards that were launched by Nottinghamshire Police in 2021 to shine a light on the amazing work of young people throughout the county.

The extraordinary teenager was set to have spinal surgery to create scaffolding around his spine to help keep him upright and help him breathe but, was then forced to isolate due to the coronavirus pandemic taking hold of the whole country.

By December 2020, Aston’s spine had curved to more than 95 degrees, crushing one of his lungs, reducing his lung capacity to just 17 per cent and misshaping his heart due to the pressure being placed on his body.

Aston once again faced further setbacks after surgeons refused to carry out his life-changing operation claiming there was a high chance of death, and it was too late for him to have the surgery they had planned before the pandemic hit.

Completely heartbroken, Aston refused to give up and wanting a better quality of life, along with his family, fought for the surgery and on 14 March 2021 the surgery was finally performed.

After more than 18 hours inside the operating theatre Aston then spent six weeks on full life support in intensive care.

Aston added: “I was meant to have spinal surgery because I had scoliosis and I was going to be the last patient for the surgeon as he was retiring but covid hit and there was a huge delay.

“He’d retired by then, so I had a lot of barriers to go through and it took probably a few years to get it going again.

“Lots of people said it wouldn’t happen and it couldn’t, but it did, and it’s helped me in every way possible and I’ve recovered.

“Before the surgery, I was leaning to the side quite a lot which meant everything was hard and I couldn’t eat properly, do things like going to the toilet properly or anything and it made everything difficult.

“Things were difficult on my parents and everyone else who had to care for me and then with the surgery everything was easier and massively improved.”

Despite missing 14 months of school he’s refused to let that impact his grades and achieved grade As in his mock exams with the plan to become a social worker in the future and help people similar to him.

For Aston’s mum, Sarah Walls, seeing her son refuse to give up and be an inspiration to others inspired her to nominate him as part of the Live Our Best Life Awards.

Mother-of-three Sarah, 37, said: “He gradually lost the use of his muscles over time and initially it was his legs that were weaker but then his arms, back and shoulders and now he has very limited movement just his fingers and his face.

“He has about 15 per cent lung capacity on good days but despite all of it goes to school every day and gets on with whatever is thrown at him.

“He is so inspirational to us, he doesn’t necessarily ever recognise it, he just gets up and gets on with it.

“He won’t necessarily think he’s doing any different but he’s really determined to not let his condition be a barrier to anything and that goes for all areas of his life, not just education but with sport and socialising as well.

“He’s very much determined to get on with living his best life.

“I’m so very proud of him and I think everybody is including his teachers, friends, and family.

“Everybody talks about him with positivity and if you ever need a reminder that things are not as bad all you have to do is look to Aston to be like let’s get on with it, it’s not that bad.”

Nottinghamshire Police’s youth outreach worker, Romel Davis, who works within the Citizens in Policing Department, launched the awards last year (2021).

He said: “Aston is truly inspirational and being able to present him his award at school knowing everything he has been through is amazing.

“Hearing that he has never let his condition affect his schooling, his love of sport and playing powerchair football stop him from achieving his dreams is so inspirational and shows just how amazing he is as a person.

“He has been through so much at such a young age and overcome all of it so he thoroughly deserves all of the recognition for being such an amazing person and never letting anything stop him from achieving his goals and getting his grades.”

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