A County Antrim teenager who faced a one-year wait for surgery on the NHS is on the “road to recovery” after receiving private treatment abroad.
Megan Fleming (14) was initially told of a delay of up to one year for a vital operation to treat scoliosis, a severe curvature of the spine.
However, the Carrickfergus schoolgirl was able to travel to Turkey with her family last month after hundreds of people raised the £20,000 required for her to have the surgery at Abicadem Hospital.
The gruelling 14-hour operation, which went ahead on November 20 under the care of specialist Dr Ahmet Alanay, was not without its complications.
Megan’s mum, Karen said: “They lost the signal to her legs four times, which meant she was paralysed; they kept working and got the signal back."
The procedure involved the fusion of Megan's spine, bringing the curvature from 100 degrees to 35 degrees.
"The care and dedication of the staff in the hospital was amazing," her mum added.
On Megan's return to Dublin on November 27, the teenager’s condition was so delicate that a cross-border effort was required to get her safely home.
“Glengormley Ambulance Service, a voluntary organisation, organised to get her home from Dublin Airport; he liaised with the Garda and PSNI and had a full escort to the door,” Karen added.
“The cross-border partnership amazed me, how it worked; every slip road and traffic light was stopped to gt her home.
“Megan is now commencing physio and has her review in six weeks. We will then fly back out to Turkey every three months for review. We would like to thank everyone that has sent messages, called us, donated and prayed to get her through this.
“Thankfully she is now on the road to recovery and will lead a normal life when fully recovered.”
Meanwhile, a post on the PSNI Road Policing page read: “Roads Policing Officers from Steeple and Mahon Road in conjunction with our counterparts in An Garda Siochana Traffic Corps facilitated the safe passage of a slow moving ambulance between Dublin and Carrickfergus.
"On board the ambulance was a 14-year-old girl from Carrickfergus called Megan Fleming who suffers from a condition called scoliosis. Megan had recently undergone a 14-hour life changing operation in Turkey.
"Megan’s condition was described to us as being like a 'jar full of eggs which couldn’t be cracked or broken'. It was necessary to transport Megan slowly in the ambulance due to her acutely sensitive condition, as any severe bump or jolt could cause paralysis. Due to the volume of traffic and the time of day it was deemed unsafe to allow the ambulance to travel alone.
"We wish Megan all the very best with her recovery and would also like to thank all of the motorists on the A1, M1, M2, M5 & A2 between Newry and Carrickfergus that were inconvenienced during the transfer for their patience."