Boy, 7, who lost both legs, given new lease of life with special ride-on kart

The mother of a seven-year-old boy who lost both legs due to a rare spinal condition has revealed how a prototype ride-on kart specially invented for him has given him back his childhood.

Boy, 7, who lost both legs, given new lease of life with special ride-on kart

The mother of a seven-year-old boy who lost both legs due to a rare spinal condition has revealed how a prototype ride-on kart specially invented for him has given him back his childhood.

The parents of James Smyth, who features on RTÉ’s new heart-warming invention series, the Big Life Fix, were devastatingly told he would never sit up and have any quality of life when he was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, which affects the lower spine.

But the extraordinary boy proved doctors wrong with his remarkable determination to get around on his hands at his home in Raphoe in Donegal but was never able to play independently in his sloped garden.

He used a makeshift kart in the playground at his mainstream school as his parents were unable to find any mobile device for James because of his small size but he had to push it forward by putting his hands on the tarmac.

But the remarkable RTÉ series put the task of creating a mobile all-terrain kart of the young boy to inventor Trevor Vaugh who has developed a number of world-first surgical devices and currently heads the Innovation Lab at Maynooth University.

After a year of painstakingly researching and testing prototypes with the young family and dinosaur-mad James, the team dreamed up the ride-on Dino Kart which allows the young boy to speed around his huge back garden and his school playground using handheld controls.

“It’s a means of giving James independence. To James, it’s the difference between being a child and not being a child, his emotional mother Joanne said.

“I’m amazed at how well it goes on the grass. I’m watching something I never thought I would see happen. For him to go and have a wander around the garden and come back up again it’s unbelievable.”

The Big Life Fix, which was filmed over a year, challenges a team of leading designers, engineers, computer programmers and technology experts to create inventions to transform people’’s lives.

Joanne told how her son was given a grim prognosis by doctors after he was born.

“We were told he would more than likely never do anything or be independent or never sit up or have any quality of life.

“I think that was the hardest part for the whole journey, that was the only time I cried.

“I never actually met again the doctor who told me he would have no quality of life but I would just love her to see him and say ‘this is the child you wrote off when he was a day old and look at him’.

“He had this determination and attitude. Nothing ever gets him down."

Before he was given his special prototype dino cart, he was getting around on the ground by using his hands but inventor Trevor Vaugh noted it was cold and hard on the young boy’s hands.

James is seen clapping his hands in delight and whizzing around his lawn in his dino kart when the dinosaur-themed kart which makes dinosaur noises was finally delivered to his home.

“He’s just a kid who is free to go to the end of his garden without having to worry about anything. On a personal level to be able to create something that actually makes their life a bit better. That’s massive.”

* The Big Life Fix will air on Wednesday night at 9.35 pm on RTÉ One.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.