Jack's Spinal Scoliosis story

Jack’s mother Jaime noticed his shoulder blades were slightly uneven in March 2020, at the start of the UK COVID-19 lockdown. After being faced with a long wait for a referral, a chance recommendation led Jaime to turn to The Portland Hospital. Here Jaime shares their story and explain why this surgery was so important.

Noticing a difference in posture

Jack’s mum Jaime first noticed something was wrong during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.

She begins: “I noticed his shoulder blades were slightly uneven in March 2020. At this point there wasn’t a drastic difference, but you could tell something wasn’t quite right. Over time, Jack’s health deteriorated and I decided to take him to our local A&E in July. He seemed to be losing a lot of weight as well, which concerned me. They did an X-ray and took some bloods and then the GP got back in touch with me to say that Jack had a curve of the spine, not a bad curve at that point, but they would need to refer Jack to a specialist.”

Quick progression 

After being faced with a long wait for a referral, over time Jack’s curve worsened and was at almost 100 degrees by August 2021. The severity of the abnormality can vary between people and can change with time. Needing specialist care, Jaime turned to a Facebook support group, where she was recommended The Portland Hospital.

On contacting The Portland, Jaime was stunned with how quick everything moved:

“Within six days of speaking to The Portland team and Jack’s consultant, Mr Mark Harris, Consultant Orthopaedic and Spinal Surgeon at The Portland Hospital, I had a pre-op booked and a potential date for surgery. it was unbelievable.”

After his first consultation with Mr Harris, he was able to confirm that Jack had idiopathic scoliosis, and that because the curve was extreme, surgery was the best option.

This was a huge relief for Jack, as Jaime explained: “He wanted it done desperately as he was quite physically deformed and obviously at age 14 they are self-conscious at the best of times. The consultant had said the curve had progressed quicker than average and it just kept going. He was worried the longer it was left, the worse it was to get and the less correction he would get.”

The surgery which Mr Harris recommended for Jack was anterior release, which involves removing the disc material from between the vertebra involved in the scoliosis curve and spinal fusion – a major operation where the spine is straightened using metal rods, screws, hooks or wires to correct the curve. 

The day of Jack’s surgery

There were some nerves on the day, but the nursing team and Mr Harris put Jack at ease. Jaime added: “Mr Harris stood Jack up and said ‘we’re going to do this, this and this; you’re going to be this much taller and you’re in safe hands Jack, everything is going to be OK.’ Jack completely calmed down once Mr Harris left the room, it was like magic.”

As a parent, Jaime explained how the lead-up to the surgery had also been nerve-wracking for her: 

“I was incredibly nervous leading up to this surgery but as soon as I walked into that hospital it just felt like everything was going to be alright, you felt confident in the medical team that were there to look after you and look after Jack. You felt at ease and I think that is hard to find.”

On the road to recovery 

Jack’s surgery was a complete success and his wound healed well with no sign of infection. Talking about his recovery, Jaime added: ‘It has been brilliant. He was off all pain relief in about 10 weeks. I think for Jack with it being such a big curve at the beginning, he was quite lopsided, so I think that was a bit harder for him, but you can see since his surgery that it just keeps on improving. Before his surgery, you could tell he had the curve even beneath a hoodie, it was so prominent, whereas now in any clothes it isn’t visible at all. Following the surgery, he was back in school after five weeks for two days each week. He is now back full-time and hasn’t missed a day since.”

Feeling like himself again

Now, five months after his surgery, whilst Jack still has some healing to do, he is incredibly happy at how things have changed – mainly his height. Jaime added: “He grew 8cm after the surgery and he was over the moon about that. Following our positive experience at The Portland I have recommended it countless times and couldn’t be happier with the results for Jack. I can’t wait to see how Jack continues to progress.”

Book an appointment to see Mr Mark Harris

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