SMILING and joking, teenager Lewis Smith seems happy and carefree.
But just two months ago he underwent surgery the day before turning 13 to replace a piece of his skull that had been preserved in his stomach following an emergency operation.
Swanmore College of Technology pupil Lewis, who hopes to become an actor, was the star of the show at his belated Oscars-themed birthday party on Saturday.
Lewis was chauffeured to his bash at Droxford Village Hall in a Ferrari where dozens of friends and relatives awaited him.
The teenager, from Midlington Road, Droxford, said of his ordeal: ‘You’ve just got to go through it. You can’t stop.’
Doctors initially thought Lewis had concussion after he suffered a knock on the head during a football game last summer.
About two weeks later, during a family holiday to Cornwall, he was rushed to hospital in crippling pain as his forehead swelled.
Again, doctors at two hospitals thought he was suffering from concussion. But the family returned home and at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham it was discovered that Lewis had a severe, potentially life-threatening sinus infection that was swelling and causing his brain to swell.
He underwent an emergency six-hour operation at Southampton General Hospital.
Part of Lewis’s skull was removed and, while doctors waited for the brain swelling to go down, placed it in his stomach to preserve it before a second operation in November.
Lewis, who recently returned to school where he is studying in year eight, said: ‘I’m feeling good now.
‘I’m doing training – I can’t play matches yet but I’m looking forward to playing football again.’
Botley Youth Team has raised £1,715 for QA Hospital and Southampton General Hospital where Lewis was treated.
The teenager hopes to be back playing football next year.
Mum-of-four Nicki, 44, said: ‘It was absolutely our worst nightmare when it happened.
‘One minute we were on holiday and the next minute that’s happened – it makes you think about life a lot more. We nearly lost him.
‘He’s doing fabulously.’