December 13 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Just weeks after undergoing open heart surgery, a teenager has pitched and putted his way to victory on the golf course.
In August, 13-year-old James Cooper endured a two-and-a-half hour operation at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital to remove a membrane from his aorta.
And then less than 12 weeks later, he battled it out against 11 young golfers to win the Junior Shield at Newton Green Golf Club, finishing five points ahead of his friend Harvey Watts.
James, who lives in Sudbury, spent a week in hospital and had to go through a second painful procedure to insert a chest drain to release fluid.
But the Ormiston Sudbury Academy student impressed doctors by bouncing back after surgery and returning to the fairway within weeks.
His mum, Nicki Dixon, said both James and his brother Patrick, 16, had been born with heart murmurs and had regular routine check-ups. In January, James underwent tests including a camera inserted via his throat, and he was initially told he might not require an operation.
But then on his 13th birthday in May, he received a letter informing him open heart surgery - a resection of the subaortic membrane - was his only option.
Ms Dixon told the EADT: “It was quite a shock and it was heartbreaking when James asked the doctors if he might die during the operation.
“He went through a lot of pain and lost about 3kg in weight. I am so proud of the way he has handled it and very grateful to the hospital.”
Sports mad James, who is also a member of Sudbury Tennis Club, could not wait to get back to his golf clubs, and although he was unable to practice his full swing because of the scar on his chest, he started “chipping” about six weeks after surgery and played his first full round last month.
He said he was “chuffed and surprised” to win the junior shield.
“It really gave me my confidence back when I won it because I really wasn’t expecting to,” James said.
“I enjoy golf because it isn’t as tiring as tennis and I love the scenery and being outdoors.
“I would ideally love to become a professional golfer one day and play at the Augusta National Golf Club or at Gleneagles.”
James has had a good teacher. His coach is his dad, Tim Cooper, who is the golfing professional at Newton Green. James’ current idols in the sport are Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy because they are “consistent, calm and don’t take their anger out on the course.”
James’ family are keen to start a campaign to raise funds for a common room or social facility at the Evelina Hospital, to help provide a bit of light relief to other teenagers going through similar experiences.