BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
A ‘miracle’ boy born with organs outside the body who wasn’t expected to live past a couple of weeks old has proudly celebrated his 17th birthday thanks to his 101 surgeries.
Larry Prout Jr., of Howell, Michigan, USA, was severely affected by a condition called cloacal exstrophy, a birth defect causing split genitalia and every organ on the outside of his body except the heart and lungs.
His other birth defects included an underdeveloped spine, the absence of his colon and stomach muscles as well as a dysfunctional small intestine.
The teen was non-verbal until the age of three, didn’t take his first steps until age nine and was connected to a feeding tube until he was 15.
He now speaks just like any other teenager, walks more often than he uses his wheelchair and gets all his calories from consuming four to five protein drinks a day.
Home-schooled since the fourth grade, Larry is finally in good enough health to go to high school two hours a day for his elective courses.
With a rod in his back and two colostomy bags, Larry celebrated his birthday on Monday feeling proud to have made it through the many obstacles he has faced.
Larry said: “It is a gift to be alive and to be celebrating my 17th birthday.
“It’s a real surprise that I was able to go through this much and still be here.
“I never thought I would survive through 101 surgeries. It’s been a crazy 17 years.
“When I was younger, I used to get really depressed because of all the things going on, but in the past few years I have overcome so many things.
“Getting through all those surgeries and making progress has led me to embracing life much more.
“I love that I’m able to go to school with the other kids now. It’s something I really enjoy doing. I love all of my friends and teachers.”
His father Larry Prout Sr., a special education teacher, has been amazed by how much the teen has overcome his various medical conditions.
The proud dad said that one of the most exciting moments was unexpectedly seeing his son walk for the first time.
Larry Sr., 52, said: “When he was nine, we would bring him to a gym and put him on the trampoline. One day he just got off the trampoline and started walking on the mats.
“It was incredible. He has really come a long way and proved the doctors wrong.”
When the boy was starting high school, he took it upon himself to give up the feeding tube.
Larry Sr. said: “It’s amazing that he doesn’t need it anymore.
“While eating solid foods is still a struggle for him, he is able to get all his calories and nutrients from those drinks.”
But the number one proudest moment for Larry Jr. happened that very same year.
Thanks to the non-profit Team IMPACT, the young American football fan was made an honorary member of his favorite college team, the University of Michigan.
For the past two years, he has attended all of the games and gotten a chance to get to know the coaches and players.
Larry Jr. said: “I love being able to support my favorite team and the fact that the players know who I am.
“Being a part of the Michigan football team has helped me so much with accepting my situation.”
Larry Sr. added that his son’s toughness has been motivating others, including members of the team.
He said: “Everyone seems to like him. They see him as an inspiration.”