Hereford & Worcester

Leominster family's race against time to fund spine surgery

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Media captionFamily may now fund daughter's life-changing surgery

A teenager's family may have to fund her life-changing spinal surgery after it was cancelled in an NHS mix-up.

Ella Tomlinson, 14, of Leominster, has curvature of the spine, known as scoliosis, and was due for a time-sensitive new operation before she completed puberty.

She was promised the surgery before Christmas but NHS funding was cancelled due to an administrative error.

St George's Hospital in Tooting said it was discussing "the best way forward".

Scoliosis is an abnormal twisting of the spine and is usually noticed by a change in appearance of the back, or one shoulder or hip being more prominent than the other.

Her father, Steve, said fundraising to get Ella treated in America may be the family's only option.

"There is a small window of opportunity for this particular operation due to the growth rate of the patient after puberty. Once the limit is reached its not possible to use tethering and it would have to be the steel rod option," he said.

Image copyright Tomlinson Family
Image caption The X-Ray showing the curvature of Ella's spine

The treatment method offered to Ella, which is most common, was for her to have metal rods placed in her back, which would require a long recovery period and extensive post-operation care.

She was then in line to receive 'vertebrae tethering', which involves fitting clamps and a cable to the affected vertebrae to straighten the back.

With just a three-month recovery period, it would allow the county netball and hockey player to recover quickly rather than face giving up her sports.

But her family have been told the operation has been cancelled because a cost code was generated for the alternative metal rod operation in error.

"We want to provide the best possible care to patients like Ella, and are in discussions with NHS England about the best way forward," said the hospital.

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