All smiles

CJ Atk­inson has a rare med­i­cal con­di­tion that lim­its him in some ways, but he doesn’t let that slow him down

Truro Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Cur­win

Un­der­go­ing about 30 surg­eries and get­ting around school with the help of a walker might dampen the spir­its of some chil­dren, but 11-year-old CJ Atk­inson is still full of smiles.

CJ – Charles John – was born with a form of dwarfism called achon­dropla­sia, a ge­netic con­di­tion that typ­i­cally re­sults in short arms, legs and fin­gers and a large head. Dur­ing his most re­cent surgery, on Feb. 3, doc­tors tried to stretch his mus­cles, hop­ing this would de­crease the cur­va­ture of his spine (kypho­sis).

It was un­suc­cess­ful and a more ex­ten­sive surgery, that in­volves break­ing hip bones, may soon be per­formed.

“Go­ing to the hos­pi­tal doesn’t bother me,” said CJ. “I know most of the peo­ple that work there (at the IWK) now. I get bored and go around in my wheel­chair vis­it­ing peo­ple or I play games on my phone.” He con­sid­ers the worst things about hos­pi­tals to be the food and hav­ing a sore throat, due to the breath­ing tube, af­ter surgery.

CJ has been to both the IWK and the Shriners Hos­pi­tal in Mon­treal and has rods in his back and a shunt in his head. One pro­ce­dure on his back, which was ex­pected to last four hours, ended up tak­ing eight. That day, he re­quired three blood trans­fu­sions.

“I know it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to do­nate blood when things like that hap­pen,” he said.

CJ is ac­tive at North River Ele­men­tary School and a mem­ber of 185 Navy League Cadets. He uses a walker to get around many places, with a wheel­chair for longer dis­tances. His mother, Tabitha, said at home he just “tumbles around” and he’s able to do that very quickly. Be­cause of his height he has also be­come very good at climb­ing.

“He’s nat­u­rally out­go­ing and ac­tive,” said Tabitha. “He adapts to things and doesn’t slow down.”

CJ is one of only about 30 dwarves in the Mar­itimes.

Fundraiser

A fundraiser for CJ is be­ing held at the North River Fire Hall on Satur­day, April 22, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mu­sic will be pro­vided by Train­wrek and ad­mis­sion is $10 at the door.

Peo­ple can also do­nate through an open trust fund at the com­mu­nity credit union (ac­count num­ber 67266103).

Atk­inson

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