Charlotte takes steps to recovery

TEENAGE majorette Charlotte Damant is this week hoping to be fitted with the body cast she will wear for a year to keep her newly-straightened back in shape.

TEENAGE majorette Charlotte Damant is this week hoping to be fitted with the body cast she will wear for a year to keep her newly-straightened back in shape.

Thirteen-year-old Charlotte has had two major operations to correct her curved spine and hopes in a week's time to walk out of hospital ready to return home for the next stage of her recovery.

A pupil at Deben High School, Felixstowe, she has been suffering from a condition known as a scoliosis – a severe curvature of the spine.

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: "Her first words when she came round after the second operation were, 'I am straight now! I haven't got a scoliosis any more.'

"We are so thrilled with how the operations have gone and the surgeons and staff have been brilliant.

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"Charlotte was a bit scared and nervous before the second operation and I stayed by her bedside all night while she slept. But it is all over now and it has gone really well, although she is exhausted."

The two five-hour operations were done a week apart and Charlotte now has titanium rods fitted to her spine to hold it straight and help it to grow properly.

Mr Damant said this week she should be fitted for her upper body cast. 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.

He said: "She gets to choose the design – they are quite fashionable. There are ones with elephants on, St George's crosses, pink and floral, all sorts.

"It's wonderful to see how youngsters can sit up and even walk a few steps just days after the second operation and soon as she has her cast she will be able to do the same."

Because of the straightening of her spine, when Charlotte leaves hospital she will be five centimetres taller.

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 have put pressure on her internal organs and affected her whole life.

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