Co Antrim schoolgirl hopes spinal surgery will end her pain

Mia Brown with her mum, Joanne.
Mia Brown with her mum, Joanne.

A Co Antrim schoolgirl who suffers from a painful spinal problem has told how she hopes to undergo surgery that will change her life.

Mia Brown, from Maghaberry, was diagnosed with scoliosis two years ago.

Mia Brown.

Mia Brown.

The painful condition has caused the 14-year-old’s spine to twist and curve. And, if left untreated, it will start to crush her internal organs, causing irreversible damage.

Despite wearing a back brace 23 hours a day, Mia’s spine has continued to curve at a rapid rate, now to an angle of 39 degrees, meaning she’s in constant pain.

Mia, who is going into Year 11 at Lisnagarvey High School, is hoping to travel to Turkey for an operation to straighten her spine – if her family can raise the £30,000 needed to pay for the procedure.

“Surgery will change my life because I won’t have to wear a back brace any more,” she said. “The back brace is so tight that it makes it a bit hard to breathe, that’s why I don’t like it.

An x-ray showing the extent of the curve in Mia's spine.

An x-ray showing the extent of the curve in Mia's spine.

“Having surgery will mean I will have a straight spine, won’t have to wear a back brace and will just be like everybody else.

“I will be happy if we can raise the money for my surgery because I would love to live with the straightened spine. I just want the pain to end.”

According to Mia’s mum Joanne, her daughter also struggles to eat and sleep, and is often in a great deal of pain.

She says corrective treatment on the NHS isn’t an option as Mia would have to wait until her condition deteriorates further and even then she could be placed on a waiting list for up to two years.

Joanne says the fusion procedure available through the NHS is also a more invasive operation and has a much longer recovery time.

“This VBT (vertebral body tethering) that’s available in Turkey is like keyhole surgery and they put a clip on each vertebrae and run a wire down it so as Mia grows the wire will tighten and her back will straighten.

“It’s a lot less invasive and within two weeks Mia could be back to school and within 12 weeks back to playing sports and stuff,” she explained.

“The thought of this continuing for another two plus years fills us full of dread. Mia has her heart set on surgery as she’s fed up with the pain she has to endure on a daily basis; she should be able to be a normal teenager.”

Unable to meet the cost of the operation themselves, Joanne has launched a fundraising campaign and is appealing to the public to help them raise the £30,000.

Anyone who would like to support the family’s fundraising effort can do so online at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/joanne-brown-704 or by clicking here.