Felpham teenager walks tall after operation

Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner

A Felpham teenager will be walking tall when she returns to college next month.

Sophie Turner grew an inch and a half overnight after an operation to straighten her spine and enable her to reach her current height of 5ft 7.5in.

She spent eight hours on a hospital operating table having two rods and 24 bolts placed in her back.

Her mother, Andrea Turner, wants to raise awareness of the condition – scoliosis – from which her daughter suffered.

Mrs Turner, of Derwent Grove, said: “I want every parent to be aware of scoliosis. It is a sideways curvature of the spine in which the spinal column can also twist to pull the rib cage out of position.

“If Sophie had not had the operation, she would have ended up looking like a little old lady.

“Her spine was so curved an operation was the only option.

“Leaving her would have meant her condition would have deteriorated and caused her organs to become squashed and complications to occur.”

She said the condition lacked public awareness in spite of being relatively common in adolescence as young people’s bodies grew suddenly.

She and Sophie, 13, are aware of two other pupils at Felpham Community College with the condition.

“I took Sophie, who was 12 at the time, to the local doctor in June last year, after I noticed her back just didn’t look right,” Mrs Turner said.

“All it took was the doctor to ask her to touch her toes and she followed her finger down her spine and an immediate curve was noticed.”

A referral to St Richard’s Hospital at Chichester followed and a further referral to Southampton General Hospital for an appointment last October.

The examinations showed Sophie was not among the cases which can be solved by a brace to stop the curve getting worse.

Her spine had a double curve of 57 degrees and 52 degrees. But Mrs Turner and her husband, who also have a son, faced a fight to get the operation carried out amid a background of NHS funding cuts.

But it was finally performed in May when the curve had worsened to 60 degrees. Sophie sat up the next day and took a few steps 24 hours later.

She was allowed home after five days with lots of pain relief and returned to the college two months after her operation.

She had to take it easy with sports but expects to be fully back in action in the new term, apart from trampolining and contact sports.

“We were very proud of Sophie,” said Mrs Turner. “She was just so calm and relaxed, unlike her parents. We are just so glad it’s all over.”

Mrs Turner said other mums and dads could carry out a simple test to find out if their children had scoliosis.

“They should just run their finger down their child’s spine when they touch their toes,” she said.

More information about scoliosis from the Scoliosis Assiociation (UK) at www.sauk.org.uk or 020 8964 1166.