2 November 2006
NO ARMS NO FEET.. BUT THE HEART OF A LION...
COURAGE OF LIAM, 10, IS AN INSPIRATION TO ALL HE MEETS.
SCHOOLBOY Liam McKelvie plays football, goes swimming and has handwriting that puts many lads his age to shame - and does it all despite having no hands or feet.
The 10-year-old was struck down by meningitis just before his second birthday.
Liam's life was on the line, but surgeons managed to save him by taking the drastic step of amputating his lower legs and part of his arms.
Since then, Liam has astonished his family and friends by his determination not to let his disabilities stop him from living life to the full.
He goes to a mainstream school, where he is described as "an absolute inspiration", and his bravery has touched everyone who knows him.
Now, Liam has been put forward for a national Children of Courage award for his bravery in overcoming his difficulties.
Mum Nicola Smith and dad Billy McKelvie said any tributes are well deserved.
Nicola added: "We are incredibly proud of Liam.
"He is very determined and won't let anyone stop him enjoying life to the maximum.
"He is very independent and doesn't like to be treated differently from anyone else. He does the best he can at everything he tries.
"He just likes being one of the boys and doesn't want anyone doing anything for him if he can manage himself."
The doctors who saw Liam when he was rushed into hospital with meningococcal meningitis in 1998 could not have guessed he would do so well.
Billy and Nicola, of Invergowrie, near Dundee, said they were told to expect the worst when they took him to the city's Ninewells Hospital.
In a last-ditch bid to save Liam's life, he was taken, under police escort, to Yorkhill Children's Hospital in Glasgow.
Nicola, 31, said: "Doctors at Ninewells gave him no chance. But specialists in Yorkhill said they could try to save his life by amputating his arms and his legs.
"They said it was the worst case they had seen in 16 years and can't believe how well he's done."
Liam, who was also left with a facial disfigurement, wears artificial arms and legs and faces a long road ahead.
His growing body causes his bones to push through the bottom of his legs, meaning he needs regular bone trimming.
He will also require future limb fitting when his body has stopped growing.
Nicola said: "There are a few operations in the pipeline. That causes him a bit of frustration because he wants to get back on his artificial legs quickly.
"He's also going to need some more plastic surgery as the meningitis left his face badly scarred.
"But he never complains. Even when he has a bad day and says he wishes he wasn't like that, he doesn't really moan."
Liam is popular with his school pals and not shy about setting them straight about his disabilities. Nicola added: "He's very outgoing and he mixes very well with other kids.
"I think that has helped him a lot because, obviously, kids have questions about his hands and feet.
"He sits down and explains to them what happened."
Liam, who attends Invergowrie Primary, has just learned to swim and has delighted his teachers with his neat handwriting.
His mum said: "People are surprised when they see him writing - he just takes his pen in his arms."
Family friend Heather McDonald, of Invergowrie, put Liam's name forward for a national magazine's Children of Courage Award.
She said: "Liam lives life to the full and brings much pleasure to his family and friends.
"He has surpassed all expectations, showing great courage, determination and aptitude.
"Liam's courage and spirit has helped him through numerous operations, with many more to come. He is an inspiration to us all."
Invergowrie Primary headteacher Elizabeth Speedie said: "In his six years at school and two years in our nursery before that, Liam has been an absolute inspiration to everybody. He never complains and he's extremely popular with his classmates."
Family, friends and parents at the school have been involved in raising money for the Liam Scott McKelvie Trust fund at the Clydesdale Bank.
The fund was set up to help Liam in the future as his family face expensive medical bills for fitting artificial limbs.