Why Christmas is so special for Ben

By David LennardCHRISTMAS is a time for families - and one East Anglian family has an extra special reason to make the most of the festive season.Four-year-old Ben McMillan is eagerly looking forward to Christmas Day like all youngsters, but his family had feared he might not live long enough to enjoy the yuletide celebrations.

By David Lennard

CHRISTMAS is a time for families - and one East Anglian family has an extra special reason to make the most of the festive season.

Four-year-old Ben McMillan is eagerly looking forward to Christmas Day like all youngsters, but his family had feared he might not live long enough to enjoy the yuletide celebrations.

For the youngster suffers from a condition known as cranial stenosis and has already endured more than 50 hospital appointments and numerous operations.


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In June he had an operation at the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to remove a lump of bone from his forehead.

It was a major operation and Ben's mother, Donna, was warned her plucky son might not pull through.

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“It was a difficult time for all of us, but Ben was so brave and kept smiling. He was a happy boy before the operation, but since then he has not looked back,” said Donna, from Reydon, near Southwold.

The East Anglian Daily Times visited Ben shortly after he returned home following the operation and despite having a scar across the front of his head that ran from ear to ear, he was smiling continuously and happy to make friends.

Today his hair has grown to cover the scar and there is no outward sign of the trauma that Ben has been through.

His grandmother, Doreen McMillan, said everyone has been so impressed with the way the youngster had coped with all the problems he had had to face.

“It is a miracle that we are all looking forward to celebrating Christmas with Ben. We all feared the worst earlier this year, so this will be an extra special time for us,” she added.

Ben has already had an early Christmas present to play with as a reward for his hard work at nursery school.

“He is enjoying playing with the toy fort that we bought for him after Ben got such a good report from the nursery,” said Donna.

The nursery school report told of how enthusiastic Ben was and how he was eager to learn at every opportunity.

As well as Christmas, Ben is also looking forward to another big date coming up shortly.

The youngster will be celebrating his fifth birthday soon and will be joining his friends when he starts his first term at Reydon Primary School.

“We are all so pleased that Ben is going to the village school. He is looking forward to it greatly and will receive one-to-one tuition,” said Donna.

But Ben will still have to go to hospitals for some time to come as he needs treatment for cranial stenosis, as well as speed delay and short stature that severely limits his development.

“We will be going to Great Ormond Street again next year, but some of the treatment that Ben needs for his eyes and growth problems will be available more locally,” said Donna.

However, for the time being the family is determined to enjoy Christmas at home with Ben.

“We know that we are fortunate to still have Ben with us. We are also so very grateful for all the support that the community of Reydon and Southwold has given us,” said Donna.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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