Sisters undergo surgery for scoliosis at the same time

Reported in The Daily Telegraph of 20th May 2010:

Two sisters with a rare curvature of the spine have both undergone life-threatening surgery to straighten their backs.

Lucy Dover, 14, and her sister Naomi, 11, both had titanium screws and rods inserted into their backs in operations lasting almost six hours each at Freeman's Hospital in Newcastle.

Their mother Sarah Dover, 41, a data analyst from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, spent 16 days in hospital praying that the operations would prove a success.

Naomi underwent surgery on March 31 and her sister's operation was due to take place the next day but was delayed to April 7.

When Lucy woke up groggy from the anaesthetic, her sister was there by her bedside to give her a hug.

Naomi said: "We both chose to have the operation at the same time - we thought we could keep each other company in hospital. "It was scary going for the operation and having my sister there really helped me get through it. I feel much better now after my operation, I used to feel embarrassed wearing tight tops.

"I was getting worried about how my back looked, I wore hoodies and baggy clothes to try and hide it. My back was also very painful before I had it straightened - it used to hurt when I did exercise and even when I stood up in the same position for too long."

Lucy said: "I feel much more confident now - I don't worry about hiding my back from people. My back used to hurt a lot when I did any sports so it feels great to be free from the pain.

"I am now 3cm taller but it doesn't feel any different - people keep coming up to me and telling me I have grown though."

Naomi was diagnosed after her mother noticed a large hump on the upper part of her back while on holiday in July last year.

On returning home it was confirmed by doctors that she was suffering from a curvature of the spine and plans to treat it were put in place. A few days later, a friend of the family, who is also a consultant, noticed that Lucy also had a curvature on the lower part of her back. Both girls were diagnosed with a condition called Idiopathic Scoliosis and a specialist advised that surgery was the best option for both.

Consultant spinal surgeon David Fender, who operated on both girls, said: "Although it is a condition that can effect siblings it is incredibly rare that two sisters come in for surgery at the same time. "It was also remarkable in that the sisters, although both needing back surgery for their condition, had their operations at different areas of their back." Their mother said: "Naomi and Lucy are very sporty and active girls - they are both involved in drama and dance clubs. "They have also entered national competitions in cheerleading as part of their school team. But they will have to keep away from sports and exercise for the next year until their backs get stronger."

Idiopathic Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine that can occur in children from the age of ten until adulthood. The curve can be to the left or the right and develops during puberty or after a big growth spurt.

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