Superhero-loving East Lothian schoolboy 'defies all odds' to walk again after being hit by car aged just four
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An East Lothian schoolboy has “defied all odds” by learning how to walk again after a horror accident – and now he’s looking forward to the best summer holidays of his life.
Little Denis-Jack Ward, six, was hit by a car in front of his shocked family in 2021 when he was just four years old. He suffered a nasty open fracture to his leg and the skin from his knee to ankle was also removed in the accident, leaving medics unsure if he would ever walk again.
Now, after several complex operations and gruelling physiotherapy, the brave youngster is back on his feet and is looking forward to a holiday filled with football, biking and friends.
His mum, Dionne Leadbetter, 31, from Tranent, said: “We are so grateful to all of the team at the hospital. They were all amazing. They have given my little boy his life back.”
Denis-Jack and his family were on their way to the shops in 2021, when he was just four-years-old, when the accident unfolded.
Dionne added: “We were crossing the road to get a slushie. I leaned out to see if it was safe to cross and he ran out onto the road. By the time I went to grab him, a car had already hit him.
“Denis-Jack collapsed on the ground, and I absolutely crumbled. When the ambulance arrived, they cut away his trousers and his leg swelled up to three times the size. We were rushed to hospital and there were 14 nurses and doctors standing around him. It was so frightening.”
Within the space of a month, Denis-Jack underwent four operations at the Royal Hospital for Children’s and Young People in an attempt to fix the bone and skin graft his leg. He had to spend five months in a wheelchair and went on to begin a battle that would last over the course of two years.
Denis-Jack started primary school for the first time on a part-time basis and had to use a walking frame. He is now at school full time and is walking completely unassisted.
The youngster said: “My very best memory was when I stood and walked for the first time again. I had a big smile on my face and I was so happy.
“When I grow up, I want to be a superhero, but I know they don’t exist, so I’m going to have a superhero job instead.”
Dionne added: “It has been really hard for him, especially because he was such an independent, sporty child. A huge part of his recovery was his determination to get back to what he loved doing most. “
His dad, Darren Ward, 38, from Prestonpans, said: “Watching him get his dressings changed was really difficult. I hated seeing him in so much pain, but Denis-Jack has incredible mental strength and he’s the most caring, loving wee boy. I’m really proud of him, he’s my best pal.
“I’m just so thankful to everyone at the hospital – it was a really horrible time and if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know how I would have got through it. I can’t thank everyone enough that my little boy is still here.”
Judith Montgomery, a physiotherapist with NHS Lothian, has been working with Denis-Jack since the accident and managed to get him back on his feet.
She said: “Denis-Jack is an incredibly resilient boy. From the outset, it was really unclear as to whether he would be able to keep his leg and the fact that he’s now fully recovered with not even a limp is incredible.
“He will always have the scars on his leg but now they just remind him how hard he has worked towards being able to walk again. We wish and his family the best of luck with everything.”