Leah's scoliosis surgery

Leah patient story

Mum Dawn explains how scoliosis surgery at The Portland Hospital changed her 15-year-old daughter's life.

Leah patient story

Leahs scoliosis surgery

When I saw her shoulder protrusion and rib hump had virtually disappeared, and the scar on her back was so discreet, I actually cried.

When Leah Potton’s left hip started to stick out three years ago, her mum was immediately concerned. 'As soon as I realised her right shoulder blade was looking distorted, I began to worry,' her mum, Dawn Quinn says. After 18 months and several visits to the family’s GP, Leah was referred to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, to see an orthopaedic surgeon.

He confirmed Dawn’s fears and diagnosed Leah with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine, which mainly affects adolescent girls. He recommended spinal fusion surgery to correct it. After a year on the waiting list for surgery, Leah’s curve was getting worse. Luckily, Dawn’s husband got a new job with private medical insurance that covered pre-existing conditions.

They booked a consultation at The Portland Hospital with Consultant Orthopaedic and Spinal Surgeon, Mr Tom Ember. Mr Ember operates on around five scoliosis cases a week – as many as most surgeons see in a month. He could see that Leah needed immediate surgery. 'Left to progress further, it would have become more and more deforming – driving her left shoulder down, leading to severe back pain and affecting her lung function.'

He quickly booked her in for the procedure. 'Fifteen is the perfect age for this operation, as the majority of growing has already been done,' he says. 'Within just three hours we were able to achieve a lovely correction for Leah, which has virtually eliminated her curve. She should go on to lead an entirely normal life with no further complications.' Dawn had prepared herself for Leah’s recovery to be tough so she was shocked by how quick and successful her surgery was.

Within 24 hours she was sitting up in bed, eating a full English breakfast and asking if she could get her ears pierced again.' Leah is looking forward to a future without scoliosis. 'I used to cover up with baggy clothes and get stabbing back pain after a few hours on my feet,' she says. 'Now I’ll be able to keep up when I’m out with my friends and wear whatever I want.'

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

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