Who remembers Tomm? As a baby, he had the face of a five-year-old. The doctors were shocked by how wrinkled he was and said they had never seen anything like it.
Gene Tennent, Tomm’s dad, was also shocked. He recounted, “I was shocked when he came out.” In a 2003 interview with 60 Minutes Australia, he said, “I didn’t think a person, especially a little baby, could ever look like that.”
They’ve had a hard time since Tomm’s unusual birth. Although, if you see him now, in 2021, it’s hard not to be touched and maybe even cry…
Tomm Tennent was born in South East Australia in 1993. His parents knew right away that he was going to be a unique child.
The parents didn’t know their son would be a medical puzzle until he was born. It was clear from ultrasounds that not everything was right, though.
Because of this, Tomm’s parents weren’t sure if they should keep the child. He said, “We talked about it and decided that whatever is meant to be will be.” Geoff Tennent is Tomm’s dad. Therefore, we did it.”
Nobody could have known how bad Tomm’s situation was, not even with all the tests and regular check-ups. They were shocked when they saw him for the first time.
Debbie Tennent, Tomm’s mom, was shocked when her son was put on her chest in the bed during birth. I felt sick to my stomach, but it was nice to hold him and hug him.
Docs didn’t understand why the baby boy had too much skin. They didn’t know why Tomm had so much extra skin, so there was no way to treat or fix him. They thought at first that he would get used to his body as he aged.
Scientists chose to spend time and money studying Tomm’s case because it was so unique. They wanted to figure out what was wrong with him.
For two and a half months, Tomm was in a medical center getting tests and being looked at. Scientists had to work hard because Tomm was the first child ever born with so much skin, and they didn’t have any examples to look at.
Families Tennent had a hard time. Parents do not want to spend months in the hospital with their new baby. Even though things were hard, Geoff and Debbie found strength in their strong baby boy. Tomm stayed a cute little kid who didn’t know what was wrong with him.
Doctors did everything they could to figure out how to help Tomm with his health problems at this time. When they looked into it more, they found something strange. They saw links between Tomm and the Shar Pei dog breed from China. Some important questions were answered by this find.
Hyaluronic acid levels in Tomm’s skin were 100 times higher than usual, which is about the same as in Shar Pei puppies. These amounts go down as Shar Peis get older, giving their skin a more normal look. Docs prayed that Tomm would have the same luck.
Good thing it did.
Tomm’s doctor, Dr. Andrew Ramsden, told him that the problem would likely go away as he aged. He was completely right.
Tomm had some problems as he grew up. People in his neighborhood loved and knew him, but they made fun of him, especially when he started school. Few kids wanted to play with him.
Not that this bothered Tomm, though. Soon, he had a lot of friends and was fully involved in his school. Tomm’s appearance was still a little different, but not as much as when he was born.
An individual asked Tomm in 2003 if he was concerned about how his friends saw him. “Not really,” Tomm answered, “because they’re my friends and don’t care how I look anymore.”
He also told 60 Minutes that he saw “a kind, loving person” when he looked in the mirror.
Tommy added, “People say I look cool, really cool, and sometimes they don’t say anything.”
They have always been very proud of their special son, Tomm.
He has done everything that “he’s a good boy” means. “He is fine at school and in everything else,” his dad said.
He was born knowing that his parents would never hide him, they said. They are right to think that beauty is more than just how you look.
It’s been 28 years since Tomm’s birth shocked everyone. An awful lot of people were interested in the boy with the big smile and extra skin after the 60 Minutes reports. The regular media, on the other hand, haven’t had many new stories.
When you look at Tomm’s social media, you don’t find out much about his present life. Seems like he married Hannah, the love of his life, on Facebook. They seem to live in Frankston, which is a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The couple looks happy.
On Tomm’s Facebook page, there is a quote that says it all: “Life’s simple.” You choose what to do and don’t look back.
Isn’t it great to see him today, still sporting that beautiful smile from 20 years ago?
What an inspiration Tomm is! My heart is full of joy that he has a wonderful family who treated him like any other child and that he is happily married.