Earlier this year, we introduced you to one of the most inspirational young people that we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
The 12-year-old was born with fibula hemimelia, a condition that for Cooper meant the complete absence of the fibula bone in his left leg.
In effect, Cooper’s left ankle and foot did not form as they should have, while his left knee had no cruciate ligaments. The condition has seen one of Cooper’s legs grow at a rate faster than the other.
2019 saw Cooper undertake leg lengthening surgery, a painful process that involved an external fixator and gradually pulling apart two sections of bone to promote new bone growth.
The surgery ultimately proved unsuccessful.
The outcome left Cooper and his family with a choice: either undertake more invasive surgery that had no guarantee of success or choose to amputate the leg.
After long consideration, Cooper made the choice to amputate.
Jodie and Soda introduced us to Cooper and his parents Renee and Matt who told us about what the decision means for Cooper and the family.
Hear from Cooper and his parent themselves here…
“We did a pros and cons list,” Renee told Jodie and Soda.
“We sat at the table and did all of the pros and all of the cons and made it feel like a logical decision rather than just something we just came up with.”
But a decision so big is hard to comprehend at any age, let alone for a twelve-year-old.
“You’ve got a twelve-year-old boy now deciding between some really tough surgery with no guaranteed outcome or actually cutting his leg off, I cannot even fathom that decision,” Soda marveled.
“In the lead up to this I’d been sort of saying the same thing to him once we’d got to that decision early this year that this was going to be an option,” Cooper’s father Matt responded.
“I said to him ‘can you start to visualise…at least try and visualise it?’ Because for me I start thinking about it for myself and think this is pretty full on. This is huge.”
For Cooper though, the decision seemed clearer.
“We didn’t really have another choice. We got two options to do this surgery again or the amputation,” Cooper said.
“But with this fixator again, there were some things that we wouldn’t be able to do and it wasn’t going to be a hundred per cent anyway. So I chose the amputation because I thought…well I think it’s going to be better for long-term.”
The condition had been causing Cooper pain, to the point where he was screaming in pain at times.
Although the decision is an exciting prospect now, with Cooper champing at the bit to get back to playing sport.
“I think we were at dinner one time at the end of the day and I said I think this will be the best so I can get back to sport!”
Cooper underwent his operation in May with everything going as well as you could hope.
Matt telling Jodie & Soda from the hospital that he was up and about following the surgery, with good news from the doctor reaffirming Cooper’s decision.
“The outcome was really good and everything went to plan,” Matt told Jodie and Soda.
“The good thing, I suppose, one of the reassuring things that did come out of it was that we did find out after surgery that the knee wasn’t in the greatest of shape. So sounds like the right decision was made.”
Cooper was in high spirits when he joined us in the studio for the first time following his surgery, jokingly telling Jodie and Soda that his leg was “feeling lighter” following the operation.
With a new leg and a new lease on life, Cooper is continuing to plough through his rehabilitation with the typical vigour with which he approaches life.
Now, Coop’s in full training mode ahead of his All-Star game against the Adelaide 36ers at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on November 12.
The game will be Cooper’s emotional comeback to the basketball court and it’s going to be huge!
Tickets are just $6 and are selling fast, buy yours here at ticketek.com.au