Phoebe is standing taller

Brave: Phoebe Nelson with her parents Ruth and Simon
Brave: Phoebe Nelson with her parents Ruth and Simon
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A teenager who underwent risky major surgery to correct a severe curve of her spine is celebrating after the procedure was a success - with the added bonus of leaving her three inches taller.

Phoebe Nelson, 14, of Moorhey Crescent, Bamber Bridge, near Preston, was diagnosed with scoliosis after her mother Ruth spotted there was something wrong with her back while trying on clothes in a shop changing room.

Ruth, 48, who is married to Simon and also has a 22-year-old son Paul, said: “When your children get older, you don’t really see them without clothes hiding them the same.

“I remember I would sometimes say ‘Stand up straight’ to Phoebe and she would reply ‘I am’, but it was when we were in a shop changing room that I noticed that there was something not right at all.

“I could see a little hump on her spine and her spine was all crooked.

“A feeling of dread filled me and worst case scenarios went through my head.”

Phoebe and her mum went to see their GP who immediately knew it was scoliosis as she had the condition herself.

Scoliosis causes the spine to excessively curve sideways. If left untreated, the condition can lead to fatal heart and lung problems.

Current treatment on the NHS is to wait until the curve becomes so severe that the only option left is to operate.

Ruth said: “The doctor told us that Phoebe was a long way off having to have surgery.

“But in Phoebe’s case, the curve deteriorated rapidly and the need for surgery arose very quickly.

The major operation is a very risky procedure which involves metal rods being inserted either side of the spine, before the spine is fused solid.

When Phoebe was first diagnosed with scoliosis, her spine was curved by 48 degrees. Only months later, on the day of her surgery, the curve had deteriorated to 78 degrees.

Phoebe, who is a pupil at Walton-le-Dale High School, underwent the 10-hour operation at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and her family knew the surgery carried risks including paralysis.

Luckily, the procedure was a success in correcting Phoebe’s curvature and after spending a few days in intensive care, she began the arduous task of physiotherapy and recovery despite suffering from horrendous pain.

Phoebe now has two big rods and 24 screws in her back to hold her spine straight.

It takes around 12 months for the spine to fuse together and Phoebe is still suffering pains and is unable to take part in a fully active life for a few more months.

Phoebe said: “When I found out I needed this operation, I felt very down and it was just hanging over me and I was very worried about it as I knew there were risks and that I would be in a lot of pain afterwards.

“I am so glad the operation has been a success and I am looking forward to living a full and active life again.

“I am particularly looking forward to being able to go on theme park rides again!

“I am enjoying having the extra height as before the op, I was 5ft and now I am 5ft 3ins and have gone from being one of the smallest in my class to being taller than some of my friends.”


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