A TEENAGER is set to undergo a major operation to try to save her from a painful, crippling condition which could eventually kill her.
Thirteen-year-old Jessica Ingham suffers from scoliosis, otherwise known as curvature of the spine and has to spend 21 hours a day wearing a body brace.
The inherited condition was diagnosed two years ago.
Jessica’s spine has twisted into an ‘s’ shaped curve, causing her rib cage to move out of position and her hip to disappear.
Without treatment the curves will only increase leading to severe disability, organ damage and in extreme cases death.
Jessica, now 13, who lives in Olivant Street, Burnley, needs the brace to slow down the movement of her spine.
But the only real way she can stop it from moving further is to undergo the operation, in which two metal rods will be inserted into her back to straighten her spinal column.
“I am absolutely petrified,” said the Blessed Trinity RC School pupil.
“One of the worst things about my condition is that I can’t wear the clothes I want to. A lot of my friends wear nice dresses and cut off tops but when I’m wearing my brace you just see it all the time.
"Another problem I have, is pain, after standing up for long periods of time as it causes my back to ache.
“I also have to be really careful about taking part in certain sports.
“I knew that one day I would have to have this operation, but when I was first told I could have it, I really didn’t want it.
“But every person who visited my house tried to talk me round, and eventually I realised I was better to get it out of the way before my GCSEs.”
Jessica is expected to undergo the operation,that will see her off school for more than three months, in September in Sheffield.
The youngster’s mum Jenette, who underwent the same operation 20 years ago after inheriting the condition from her mother, is now trying to raise awareness of the condition that affects one in every 2000 people.
The beautician who owns Elegant Nails and Beauty, in Padiham Road, Burnley, said: “Nobody seems to know about this condition until it affects them.
“In the Gannow ward of Burnley alone I know of five youngsters who are living with the condition.
“The condition does not usually manifest itself until a child is about 11 years old.
“With having the condition myself I was very paranoid about keeping my eye on Jessica and making sure she was diagnosed as soon as possible.
“When we were trying to get help for Jess, her spine moved 25 degrees in just three months.”
Ollie Murs fan Jessica began displaying symptoms of her condition shortly after turning 11.
Initially, doctors couldn’t diagnose the condition as her X-rays failed to highlight the tell-tale signs.
But her mum and dad Kevin, were so concerned they persevered and asked for a second opinion.
A short time later Jessica’s condition was diagnosed and she was referred to a consultant at Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Jenette said: “I discovered on the internet that some hospitals were using back braces to try and slow down the spines movement. But in Manchester they don’t think they work and so not prescribe them.
“I was really unhappy with this and found out that Sheffield Hospital does use these braces, so I insisted Jessica should be treated there.
“And I am so glad I did, in the three months we were waiting for a brace to be made, Jessica’s spine moved 25 degrees.
“We are now waiting for the date for her operation, we hope it will hopefully change her life for the better and enable her to do normal things and wear normal clothes which is very important to teenage girls.”
Jessica’s little sister Olivia, eight, must now be monitored for signs of the condition.
The family are now asking for donations to the Scoliosis Association UK, SAUK, so more research can be done into the condition.
Donations can be handed in to Elegant Nails and Beauty, in Padiham Road, Burnley.