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Charlotte’s Story

When Sadye found out her 12-year-old daughter Charlotte had scoliosis in July 2015, a condition in which a sideways curve of the spine develops as a result of rotation of the spinal column, she was just at the end of a growth spurt.

She had started to complain that her hips didn’t seem even and felt like they were out of line, along with feeling as if one side of her ribs was uneven.‘It was only when my husband Andy, who is a sports massage therapist, had a look at her and noticed that when she sat down, one of her legs was slightly longer than the other,’ said Sadye. ‘When Charlotte would bend over, you could trace the line of her spine which was in a complete ‘S’ shape.’

The discovery of the curve on Charlotte’s back led her parents to the GP who decided to refer Charlotte to The Portland Hospital. Charlotte was shown an X-Ray of her spine by Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Khai Lam, which showed that she had severe scoliosis, with a 55 degree curve at the top and the bottom of her spine.

Following the news, Sadye and her husband had considered getting a second opinion, but the scan clearly showed Charlotte couldn’t continue without treatment. ‘She had around 18 months left of growing and Mr Lam had said by the age of 16, she would be bent over double.’

Mr Lam explained that Charlotte was treated quite early on to prevent her scoliosis from getting worse. ‘When she was diagnosed, it was a moderate case but would have got worse over time. We prefer to wait until teenagers have stopped growing when we operate unless a curve is quite severe.’ Charlotte was told she could choose a time that suited her for the operation and felt she wanted to enjoy her summer holiday, so settled on Easter 2016 for her scoliosis treatment.

When March 2016 came around, she was ready to have surgery and was taken to The Portland Hospital by her parents. The operation was six hours long, requiring Charlotte to spend a day in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a day before recovering in her private room.

Initially, she felt a bit sick when taking morphine for the pain but after a few days she was weaned off so she was just taking paracetamol and ibuprofen. The staff at The Portland helped Charlotte to start slowly moving around the hospital and she was able to walk short distances by the time she left to finish her recovery at home.

Three months later, Mr Lam was very happy for Charlotte to go back to full activities, and within eight weeks she was back to normal. He explained that most children are usually able to return to school after three weeks and can even return to low-impact sports within three months.

Charlotte’s mum Sadye said: ‘Mr Lam was fabulous with Charlotte – he spoke to Charlotte the whole time and if she had any questions, he always referred to her directly. She had written a long list of questions for Mr Lam and he answered every single one in a way Charlotte could understand.’

If Charlotte had not had the operation, her life would have been completely different. Now at 13, she can do almost anything she wants. She is now dancing in a show with her friends and living a happy normal life. ‘The Portland Hospital were amazing for our family and I couldn’t have asked for better care – Charlotte had said that she felt like she was 'the only person in the hospital' because she was looked after so well by the incredible staff.’

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