'I'm going to run again' - Brave Ipswich girl, 11, makes amputation decision

India Mather, 11, in a wheelchair at a hospital after an operation

India Mather has had countless appointments at Great Ormond Street Hospital since she was a baby - Credit: Laura Maguire

An 11-year-old from Ipswich has made the incredible decision to have her leg amputated after a lifetime of operations. 

Laura Maguire, 32, first noticed that her daughter, India Mather, had something wrong with her leg on Christmas Eve in 2010.  

India was five months old and rushed to hospital with what her parents thought was a broken leg - but results delivered on Christmas Day revealed she had neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic condition that caused congenital pseudarthrosis in her right leg.  

This is where a bone fracture, present at birth, can't heal properly on its own and so forms a 'false joint'. The bone is weakened and even with treatment the fracture is likely to reoccur.

India Mather before her first operation in hospital

India just before her very first operation - Credit: Laura Maguire

In 11 years, India has had countless operations - at least eight to insert rods into her leg to strengthen it and one to lengthen her bone - each one carrying a risk of bone infections, which she's suffered from four times. 

At one stage, when she was nine, there was an eight-centimetre discrepancy between the lengths of her legs which she needed limb-lengthening surgery to address. 

And an operation a year ago saw a rod inserted that was too long, leading to struggles in physiotherapy and another operation to fix the mistake. 

India at hospital after surgery on her leg

India had to have surgery to extend the length of her leg - Credit: Laura Maguire

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Ms Maguire said: "It's as I talk through it that I realise how much she's been through. 

"We had to go to A&E at Ipswich Hospital last week because her surgery scars were bright red - another infection - and then a few days later went to Great Ormond Street, where she's been seen since she was a baby. 

"And we were just talking about the next operation options and she turned to the consultant and said 'I've got something to tell you. I want an amputation'. 

"That had always been the worst-case scenario for me and her dad, so it was emotional to hear - I can't imagine making that decision. But she's just so sure. 

"She's always been in so much pain and it's been all she knows since she was a baby. She can't currently bear weight on her leg, she can't run around with her brother and sister, she's dependent on crutches and a wheelchair. 

"When she saw I was upset with what she'd said, she just said 'mum, it's okay, I'm going to be able to run again'. It's just a really brave decision. 

Laura Maguire with India, Logan and Ofelia

India and her family - Credit: Laura Maguire

"India does understand what she's asking for - we'd discussed it in the past and researched some other amputee children on YouTube. She saw how they can run with prosthetics and do all these things she wants to be able to do - she's sure about what she wants." 

The next steps for India, who is a Year 7 student at Gorseland Specialist Support Unit, involve another operation at Great Ormond Street to work on the pin in her leg.  

But the hospital has said arrangements for an amputation could be made in the first half of next year. 

The family will first visit a prosthetics hospital in Romford for counselling, with India receiving specific therapy and an explanation on what, exactly, will happen before, during and after her operation.

India Mather with her siblings, Logan and Ofelia, playing dress up

India with her siblings, Logan and Ofelia - Credit: Laura Maguire

Her mum said: "It won't sink in until it's happened. I won't know what to expect until it's happened. Getting time to process it has been really difficult. 

"But it's going to be hardest for the adults involved, I think - my two other kids are really supportive and just want her to be better. 

"I'm 32 and I can't ever imagine making that decision, never mind deciding so young, but she's started complaining about the pain and she's never done that before, so I know it must be bad. 

"She's been through a lot but she's such a happy girl who doesn't let things affect her. This won't be any different."

India Mather wearing her Great Ormond Street hoodie

India Mather has neurofibromatosis type 1 and has been treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital - Credit: Laura Maguire

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