A boy from South London is fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack. Vinnie James, 7, from New Malden, went into respiratory arrest last Saturday (May 14), then a cardiac arrest and was left without oxygen for 20 minutes.
Vinnie’s MRI scans have since revealed he is suffering from brain damage. This will affect his movement, sight and cognitive ability. He is now in intensive care surviving on life support, suffering form dystonic episodes, a movement disorder in which your muscles contract involuntarily.
Vinnie’s mother, Kelly, 39, said the doctors do not expect him to recover well but said he was a fighter. She told MyLondon: “Vinnie is an extremely smart little boy who self taught himself Spanish. He is very head strong and knows exactly what he wants. He is very cheeky and is known to give people the side eye all the time.”
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‘Vinnie is a fighter’
(Image: Kelly Jones)
She continued: “He truly is an inspiration to everyone. He lives at home with myself, his stepdad Andrew whom he adores and his sister Kaydee who winds him up.”
Vinnie was born in 2015 and diagnosed with a life-limiting condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) type one. This is a genetic condition that causes muscle weakness in the limbs and the ability to swallow and breathe independently.
SMA is the biggest genetic killer in children with over 90 per cent dying before the age of two. After completing a trial at Great Ormond street at seven months old, Vinnie was then able to breathe independently, although not overnight. He had previously been able to move around and sit upright. Kelly said that despite being non-verbal, he is “extremely vocal”.
(Image: Kelly Jones)
Vinnie and his family live in a first floor, two bedroom flat in New Malden, with 15 stairs up to the property meaning Kelly has to carry Vinnie up the stairs along with his life-saving equipment. Vinnie and her partner, Andrew O’Brien, have been sleeping in their front room for six years so that Vinnie could have his own room.
In 2020, Kelly started a social media campaign titled ‘GetVinnieGrounded’ to get the family rehouse into a more suitable accommodation given his condition. She said: “This was because there were many empty houses in the borough that were empty, including two suitable ones down my very road.
“The campaign highlighted our struggle…[it] was a success and we were offered a house down my road in 2021 and planning permission. was put in.” Work on the house began in May to build a single-storey extension to provide Vinnie with a suitable space to use.
Now, the family is fundraising in order to pay for Vinnie’s recovery treatment at a rehabilitation centre. You can donate to their GoFundMe here.
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