A boy who was one of the youngest children ever to undergo open heart surgery in Northern Ireland has come face to face with his rock heroes.
Most youngsters dream of meeting their childhood heroes and for the Co Antrim boy this dream came true when he met rock ’n’ roll legends Def Leppard.
Coleraine schoolboy JD Dinsmore met the Sheffield rockers in June and, says mum Gillian Shiels, the normally outgoing 11-year-old was left speechless.
“He would have been a bit shy about it,” she explained, “but it was his dream come true. All he wants to be is a rock star. He loves his guitar and his rock and roll music. And he has always been into Def Leppard. There is no Daniel |O’Donnell in this house!”
Gillian said the once in a lifetime meeting came about after JD’s uncle, David Shiels, contacted the Make-a-Wish Foundation to see if it could help.
JD has complex congenital heart disease. When he was born he had three major heart defects — a blocked valve, a hole in the heart and an abnormal connection of the aorta to the right ventricle. He was also born with haemophilia.
Then when he was almost two he underwent an operation for a cardiac catherisation. However, during the operation he contracted septicemia which led to an infection in his heart.
In April 1999 JD had open heart surgery for a valve replacement, the youngest person to undergo and survive such an operation in Northern Ireland at the time.
Doctors told his parents that he would probably need another operation four or five years later, but the youngster defied predictions and has stayed strong.
Now that he is getting older, he will need the operation soon .
“I try not to worry about it at the moment,” said Gillian. “I will just deal with it when it comes round.
“After the operation they said he would be lucky to have four or five years with it but it’s been almost nine and a half. The next operation will be open heart surgery again. These days there is much less invasive surgery but with JD, it’s complex congenital heart disease which means there is so much inside his heart that is wrong. They said the next one, which should be within the next year, should do him until he is an adult.”
Gillian said her son was over the moon when he met the band and still mentions the fact that he met them almost all the time.
She also said the band were impressed JD was sporting a limited edition tour shirt which was given to him by his Uncle David.
“He was just so excited when we found out,” she recalled. “He really loves his rock ’n’ roll and playing his guitar. Because of his condition he can’t do very much but lately he has really gotten into football.
“He loves Liverpool and used to love the wrestling. Sometimes he gets a bit upset because he is not able to play football at school. We try to say to him not to push himself too far but he is a kid and it’s hard for him.
“But he also has a sense of humour. Once he asked the doctor if he was allowed to get a tattoo and the doctor said no so he said ‘well that’s great I’m not allowed to drink or get a tattoo now’.