Little Harris Brown was left with an injury more commonly seen in car crash and child abuse victims – after playfully bouncing on his parents’ bed.
The boisterous two-year-old had been jumping on the soft mattress while mum Emma made the bed.
But the innocent play soon turned to horror when the 31-year-old heard a “very clear snap” as her son landed in a pile of the pillows.
Harris was in so much pain he went into shock and had to be rushed to hospital, where an x-ray confirmed his thigh bone – the strongest bone in the body – had been torn in half.
The break, called a spiral fracture, was so severe, he spent the next three weeks with his leg in traction 80 miles from home at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
Mrs Brown, who lives near Forres, Moray, said: “The doctors had never heard of anyone breaking a bone like this before – he was just jumping into a pile of pillows. It’s the biggest bone in the body and it just snapped.
“They said for this type of fracture the most common thing was high impact car accidents, trampoline accidents, and the third thing was abuse.”
At first doctors feared he may be suffering from brittle bone disease, but this was ruled out by specialists who said it was just “sheer bad luck”.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
Mrs Brown, said: “I have no idea how it happened, it’s so bizarre. He was just being silly, throwing himself into the pillows on the bed. But just when he landed I knew. His body went one way and his leg went another and I heard a very clear snap.
“He cried initially and screamed and then he just went silent. It was almost as if he wanted to go to sleep. He curled himself up into a ball. I think it was his body going into shock with the pain. It was just sheer panic.”
Harris was rushed by ambulance to Dr Gray’s Hospital, where an x-ray confirmed the damage, before he was transferred to Aberdeen.
Mrs Brown said: “When we got to Dr Gray’s in Elgin they were really shocked at what happened and were thinking along the lines of brittle bones.
“It was a spiral fracture, a type of fracture you only get from a high impact.”
It is caused by the bone being torn in half as a result of a twisting force or impact, and specialists had to discuss how best to fix it.
Surgery was too risky, given his age, and a cast would have had to cover almost his entire body, from the armpits down.
So they opted to put his leg in traction for three weeks, whereby they stretched the leg and kept it in the same position to allow the bone to heal.
Mrs Brown, a therapy radiographer, said: “It was a long time but the hospital was just fantastic. The play leaders came round every day to keep him occupied.
“He’s not the kind of boy who will sit and watch TV, that doesn’t interest him at all. So I did think, ‘how are we going to manage’. But he did amazing.”
She added: “When they were putting him in traction, the big thing was to make sure it was set the same length as the other leg otherwise he would be left with a permanent limp.”
She was told the recovery time for an adult with the same injury would be at least six months.
But eight weeks on, Harris is back on his feet – and already wanting back up on the bed to bounce.
His mother said: “I don’t think he’s learned his lesson. He still sits on the bed saying ‘bouncy’ and I’m saying, ‘no bouncy on the bed”.
“He’s too young to associate it with what he did. He’s been really, really lucky and the hospital staff were amazing. Everyone of them is worth their weight in gold.”
Harris’s dad, Dougal, 35, now plans to take part in the Staffordshire Half Ironman challenge in June to raise money for the Archie Foundation, the charity which provided play leaders who kept Harris occupied while he was confined to bed for three weeks.