"Miracle child" Andy Drewett who was given days to live twice to celebrate 40th birthday
TWICE in the first year of their son's life the Drewetts were told by doctors the infant would not see another day.
But each time Andy, who was born with a hole in his spine which has left him paralysed from the waist down, survived against all odds puzzling medical experts.
Nearly four decades on, the "miracle child" from Thornbury is preparing to celebrate his 40th birthday.
"They said he would get an infection in his back and that he would perish. But now he's living alone independently and everybody who knows him is staggered. He is just an amazing person," said his father Lyall, 74.
Andy was born on August 28, 1973 with congenital disorder Spina Bifida and given one month to live at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
But six weeks later, the poorly infant was still alive and slightly baffled staff allowed his parents to take him home.
When fluid began building in his brain at three months, he underwent the first of 19 major operations, which would later include fitting iron rods on his spine.
But the family's ordeal was far from over as at the age of one, Andy contracted meningitis.
They were warned to prepare for the worst as their son was given a fortnight to live.
But once again, the infection took a turn for the better and the infant made a miraculous recovery, returning home a few days later in the arms of his relieved parents.
"Within two days the improvement was so amazing, people were staggered," added Lyall, a devoted Christian. "Most of this recovery was through our committed prayer."
Last July, Andy moved out of his parents' home to live independently for the very first time. Just a few months later he suffered a stroke, which saw him hospitalized at Southmead for six months.
His mother Ellie described her resilient son as an inspiration with a jovial disposition and positive attitude.
"Miraculously, he was able to come home and has managed very well," she said. "Andrew has always amazed us through his whole life. It's emotional for us because we have looked after him for 38 years.
"Andrew has overcome so many things. He has the most amazing temperament."
Although still shaken by his recent stoke, which initially paralysed the left side of his body, Andy said he felt fortunate.
"I feel fortunate," he said. "I don't see myself as different from anybody else because I had a stroke and I have a disability. My faith has helped me and without it I would not be here celebrating my 40th birthday."
Andy will celebrate his birthday with his close family as well as the friends he met through Paul's Place, the charity that has lent him strong support over the years, at a separate event.
"They say life begins at 40; my life is just beginning," added Andy.
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