A life changing procedure

Hattie's story
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When Hattie first felt her back hurting in March 2019, her parents didn’t immediately think it was anything serious. However a scan in October showed a significant curvature of Hattie’s spine.

Diagnosing her with scoliosis, Hattie’s paediatrician referred her for further investigation and a consultation at The Portland Hospital, with consultant orthopaedic and spine surgeon Mr Jonathan Lucas.

Hattie's Scoliosis Story

Hear from Hattie and her parents who came to see Mr Jonathan Lucas at The Portland Scoliosis and Spinal Surgery Centre for a life-changing procedure. Here, the family talk about our young patient's journey, from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.
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Visiting The Portland

After the initial appointment and MRI scan with Mr Lucas it was clear that the scoliosis was severe and would require surgery to correct and control it. Hattie and her parents were invited to visit The Portland twice beforehand in preparation. The first of these occasions was with the physiotherapy team who spent time showing Hattie how to loosen her muscles.

At the pre-operative assessment two weeks before the procedure, The Portland nursing team took her on a welcome tour of the hospital.

Hattie’s mum Anna said “the team were so welcoming and lovely, they became like Hattie’s adopted family.”

Preparing for surgery

Hattie and her family arrived at The Portland the day before Hattie’s surgery. Once Hattie was settled in her room “Mr Lucas popped by to visit and talk about the procedure in more detail - before leaving to let Hattie rest whilst watching her favourite programme ‘Friends.’"

The day of the operation

On the morning of Hattie’s operation, Mr Lucas visited her room to say hello and ensure Hattie felt as comfortable as possible. Shortly afterwards Claire the anaesthetist escorted the family to the lower ground floor to give Hattie her anaesthetic. Hattie remained brave the whole time ahead of surgery, and whilst her mother and father were understandably nervous, they were ecstatic when they returned to The Portland later in the day.

Hattie's mum remembers, “Clinical Nurse Specialists Sue and Lisa were there to welcome us, before Mr Lucas wandered in to say the operation had gone even better than expected and Hattie was already wiggling her feet and toes - I was so relieved I burst into tears!” 

The day after surgery

Hattie remained in hospital for the next four days to help with her recovery. During this time Mr Lucas visited her every morning and informed the family that post-operation Hattie had grown 9cm - a huge increase on the expected 3cm.

In fact, the day after the operation Hattie’s immediate progress was impressive enough that Mr Lucas felt she was ready to move from her bed in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to sitting up in her temporary wheelchair, with the promise of chocolate ice cream as a treat if she could manage some gentle arm-assisted movements, neck turns and shoulder rolls with the help of physiotherapist Maria. As they had done from the very beginning, The Portland staff helped put the family’s mind at ease.

Russ, Hattie’s father, gratefully reminisces, “Hattie was transferred back to the ward mid-afternoon. Two of the staff from the PICU popped down to visit and said that everyone was already missing Hattie and us - it was so sweet!”

Hattie’s post-operative recovery

The remaining three days in The Portland were a case of slowly recovering, as the extent of the procedure and pain relief medication Hattie was on naturally made her feel a little sick occasionally. When Mr Lucas removed Hattie’s dressings two days after the operation he was very pleased, and once Hattie had finished her cornflakes Claire helped Hattie with her physio - which this time around included walking back and forth from her bed to the nurses’ station.

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Family time and Hattie’s positive influence

Despite recovering from major surgery herself, Hattie was also helping other young patients.

Russ said “Sue and Lisa asked her if she would be a mentor to other children as she had such a positive mindset. She talked to two other children who had undergone the same surgery.”

A lovely surprise for Hattie on day three of her recovery was the visit of her younger sister Libby, who was so pleased to see her big sister she’d made a special certificate of bravery for her.

We are eternally grateful to Mr Lucas and The Portland team. The surgery has had such a positive effect on Hattie.

Russ, Hattie's dad
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Getting ready to go home

After a much needed lie in, on Hattie’s final morning in hospital the family were overjoyed when they saw Hattie’s post-operative X-rays.

Anna, said “seeing how straight her spine has become was amazing! Maria came again helped Hattie with stair-based physio and gave some invaluable advice on caring for Hattie at home. I got really emotional and cried when she said goodbye!”

There was one more pleasant surprise from The Portland’s nursing team. “Sue and Lisa came to shower Hattie and provided some spare dressings and advice. They measured her and we found she’d gained 9cm growing from 5’1” to over 5’4”!”

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New lease of life and looking ahead 

Since arriving home, Hattie now has so much confidence in herself and was able to go surfing without experiencing any pain whatsoever. Her next plan is to ride a rollercoaster. Hattie loves her scar too.

Russ said 
“It shows the journey of what she’s been through and says it’s her best attribute. She even has it as her profile picture on her Facebook page.”

More patient stories

Rhiannon’s courage: Recovering after scoliosis surgery

Rhiannon’s courage: Recovering after scoliosis surgery

Rhiannon was an active 14-year-old girl. When she occasionally complained to her parents about aches and pains in her back, there was no reason to think it was anything more sinister than sore muscles from one of her dance classes, or something she’d pulled while horse riding.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.