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Charlotte's step forward

PUBLISHED: 02:35 12 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

TEENAGE majorette Charlotte Damant's hopes of twirling her baton again took a big step forward today after the first of two major operations to straighten her curved spine.

TEENAGE majorette Charlotte Damant's hopes of twirling her baton again took a big step forward today after the first of two major operations to straighten her curved spine.

Her family said the five-hour operation had been a success and the 13-year-old now has a few days to recover before she goes back into the operating theatre.

The second op will be just as long and complex as surgeons fix titanium rods to her spine to hold it straight and help it to grow properly.

Charlotte, a pupil at Deben High School, Felixstowe, has a condition known as a scoliosis – a severe curvature of the spine.

She had no back problems and was an active teenager, enjoying horse riding and being a member of the award-winning Galaxy Twirlers majorettes, when she had a growth spurt and her back suddenly curved and twisted like a corkscrew.

Within weeks it had bent over to the side at an angle of 72 degrees in the lumber region and was likely to worsen.

If it was not operated on and did get worse, it could put pressure on her internal organs and affect her whole life.

Charlotte, who lives with her mum and dad, Sarah, 38, and Colin, 47, and brother Charlton, 16, at Treetops, Walton, is being treated at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, Middlesex.

Mr Damant said the first operation on Monday had been a great success.

"She's a still a bit woozy and she had a night and a bit of a day in intensive care. She's still got saline and antibiotic drips and a chest drain in her, but everything has gone well," he said.

"They managed to take the major part of the hump out of her back and in the second operation will put in the rods to bring her back upright.

"The surgeon and all the staff have been fantastic and we cannot thank them and praise them enough – they have made us all feel so much at ease.

"They explain everything and leave no stone unturned so you know what is happening all the time."

Charlotte will have the second operation on Monday . The next part of her three-week stay at the hospital will be to have an upper body cast made.

She will be placed in a mud solution to create the fibre-glass cast, which will have a hard back and a corset front. She will wear it 23 hours a day for the next year – only allowed out for an hour once a day to shower.

When she leaves hospital she will be able to walk – and be five centimetres taller with her straightened back.

WEBLINKS: www.sauk.org.uk

www.ich.ucl.ac.uk


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