From brain injury to bowler of the year, Brett Auton's remarkable recovery

A severe asthma attack at 21 almost killed Brett Auton. Experts didn't expect him to live long, but 30 years later, he's proved everyone wrong.

The Winmalee man was without oxygen for almost 10 minutes, leaving him with a brain injury and reliant on others for even the simplest tasks in life.

"He couldn't walk, couldn't stand, feed himself or get to the toilet. It was three years before he could put a spoon in his mouth," said Brett's mum, Barbara.

Brett spent two months in a coma in the intensive care unit at Nepean Hospital. He was eventually allowed to go home after more than four months in hospital.

Barbara gave up work to care for Brett, who had lost his sight, and weighed just 43kg. He had to relearn how to do absolutely everything, relying solely on his family throughout extensive rehabilitation.

"Brett has defied all the odds, he has completely confounded the surgeons and the doctors who attended him, he was not supposed to get to this stage," Barbara said.

"It was life and death, day after day," said Brett's dad, John.

In November, Brett was named Springwood Bowling Club's bowler of the year.

It's a hard-earned honour, given to the person who gains the most points in competition.

Brett was speechless when he received the award.

"It's the biggest thing that's happened since I was sick. I thought I had lost by a point. When they said my name I was blown away," he said.

When Brett joined the club in November 1997 for some social interaction, he had very little balance and co-ordination, so playing bowls was a difficult task. It wasn't unusual for him to fall over 10 times during a game, and he'd often return home looking like he'd been in a brawl.

Barbara can count 14 times Brett's nose has been broken over the years, and he's had a broken jaw on three occasions.

"He's come home with blood and grazes after bowls. But he's pretty stable on the greens now," John said.

When Brett began using a mechanical bowling arm almost 20 years ago, his balance improved and consequently his game did too.

"I didn't have to get down low. It felt very secure. I could compete again," Brett said.

Club publicity officer Peter Gibson remembers the transformation.

"He was falling over and unsteady on his feet. But he mastered the mechanical arm. He turned out to be the top bowler in the club. People like to be his partner," Mr Gibson said.

"I've seen a big difference in his confidence. The game has been good for him and the social aspect. Club members are very supportive."

Brett said the club members were like his second family.

"It's been my saviour, the club. They are good people," he said.

"I'd never been to a funeral until I joined the bowling club."

While acknowledging it's been a difficult journey, Barbara has been grateful for the community support over the years.

"I have met the most wonderful people through Brett getting sick," she said.

When Brett couldn't walk, the community banded together to provide the funds for a sit-on motorised scooter.

Meanwhile, Brett has no intention of reducing his bowling commitments any time soon.

"I will bowl as long as the club's around. I'll be president one day," Brett joked.

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