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Dillon is ‘the happiest he’s ever been’ after life changing amputation

INSPIRATIONAL Frome teenager Dillon Chapman is enjoying his first summer holiday as an amputee and says losing his leg is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

13-year-old Dillon was born with Neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic condition that saw tumours grow along the nervous system in his left leg causing deformity and extreme pain. His leg grew much quicker than the other, resulting in him needing several operations to shorten the bone.

It meant that when he was just eight, Dillon decided he wanted to have the leg amputated rather than face a lifetime of operations.

And after having the operation in April this year, he is thrilled, saying, “I can do a million more things with one leg than I ever could with two!

“I looked online and saw how amputations had changed other people’s lives and realised it would change my life too. I’ve become a happier person and I’m enjoying life now – it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Dillon’s inspirational story was told in a documentary shown on BBC3 on Monday this week and is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer. It followed his story from September 2013 right up until April this year, just after his operation.

Dillon’s mum Dawn Chapman told the Frome Times, “Since having the operation, he is the happiest he has ever been. Looking back, he was robbed of his childhood. He couldn’t do anything that the other children could do because he was always in so much pain.

“He is a very bright, articulated young man who has been through a lot. His confidence has gone through the roof since he has had his prosthetic leg, which he is still getting used to.

“We are all so happy for him and thoroughly looking forward to what the future will bring.”

Dawn explained the background to Dillon’s condition.

“We noticed straight away that something wasn’t right with his foot when he was born, but the doctors told us that it was just swelling and not to worry. But the swelling didn’t go down so they said it was birthmark. We couldn’t even put a little baby sock on him because he would just cry and cry.

“Then when he had just turned one, he pulled himself up using the bath and I immediately noticed that his left leg was much longer than his right, and he was tipping to one side. I rang his dad, Mark who was at work and told him.”

After years of battling with doctors and specialists, Dillon had his leg amputated earlier this year after years of doing his own research on amputation and rehabilitation.

Dawn continued, “He hated his leg, really hated it. It’s obviously not very nice to see your child lose a limb but he was desperate to not go through all the operations and on-going trauma that it brought.

“I used to sit with him most nights because he was in so much pain. He would barely sleep. He taught himself meditation techniques to help with the pain, it was really awful.”

Dawn added, “Making the documentary was fine but obviously demanding at times.

“The documentary was originally going to be a series of programmes about various children living with different conditions, but when they heard more about Dillon they wanted to follow his story.”

Despite all that has been going on in Dillon’s life, his school life was never affected.

“He always had his operations in the holidays so he didn’t miss school,” added Dawn. “It was our rule that it wouldn’t affect his school work. He even had the best attendance record in his class in his school report when he was at primary school.

vthe operation but Dillon has been very busy enjoying himself. He has been to Germany with his Dad to watch the Motor GP and has been on a school trip to Brokerswood Country Park.  He also officially started the Frome Half Marathon.”