Geordie Hospital EXCLUSIVE: Brave teen with scoliosis dances again after 'life-changing' surgery on her spine

Virgin Radio

15 Feb 2022, 18:14

Credit: Channel 4

Credit: Channel 4

A family from Sunderland are praising with the surgical team on Geordie Hospital for ‘changing the life’ of their 13-year-old dancer Amelia Mills.

In tonight’s episode of the medical series (Tuesday 15th February), Amelia faces a major surgery to correct her adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

The brave teen, who is an avid dancer, first spotted the difference in her back in March 2020 while with her mum Angela, and after virtual consultations and x-rays, she was eventually diagnosed with a double curve in her spine. 

The condition got progressively worse over 16 months, with constant pain and the beginnings of breathing issues as the spine continued to bend.

Amelia, who had been dancing for years, eventually had to cut down her dancing classes, effectively ending her regular routine and causing her to miss out on her favourite things. 

The only way to cure the condition was to go under the knife, and in came the incredible staff at The Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.

The surgical team, including Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon Mr Andy Bowey, used a new piece of virtual reality technology to operate, not only straightening her spine, but also fixing the issue for life. 

Credit: Channel 4

Credit: Channel 4

The complex procedure has two stages. The first sees screws inserted into the spine, then metal rods are attached to pull the spine straight. Spinal physicists put electrodes onto Amelia’s back to monitor her spine throughout the surgery.

While chatting to about their experiences on Geordie Hospital, Amelia, mum Angela and dad Leighton, said they couldn’t be more grateful. 

Angela explained: “[Dr Bowey]'s changed her life, all of our lives really for the better. They're so talented and clever at what they're doing and they're so professional, so concise with everything. I’m just in awe of them really, and possibly I wouldn't have been before this experience because you're not on that side of it, but they're incredible people.”

Cameras on the show go completely behind the scenes, from the very moments through the door, throughout the lengthy surgery, and through the other side of recovery too. 

When it came to saying yes to having the life-altering surgery televised, it was Amelia and the surgical team who ended up reassuring her parents that it was the best thing to do. 

Amelia said: “It raises awareness for other people that have the same condition and if they have to get an operation and they're worried, it's reassuring to see someone else going through the same thing.”

Both Angela and Leighton had reservations about letting cameras into a very vulnerable day in Amelia’s life, initially saying no to the opportunity. 

Despite their hesitancy, Amelia’s strength and determination to shed light on the condition ended up persuading them to say yes, and both proud parents are now pleased they were able to share their daughter’s story. 

Angela added: “I was only aware of the one girl that was on Britain’s Got Talent that it happened to…that was the only thing I knew about scoliosis. We felt really strongly about trying to raise a bit of awareness and it being on that programme is just absolutely incredible, because there isn't a lot of awareness about it.”

Dad Leighton felt the same way, having been obviously worried about camera crews being around and potentially being a distraction, but the top teams featured on Geordie Hospital were able to settle his concerns.

Credit: Channel 4

Credit: Channel 4

Leighton shared: “I suppose with it being on television as well, the best people are going to be involved, she's going to get the best treatment, that's the sort of slant we took at it. We'll swallow our own insecurities, and Amelia was fine to go with it, so we're more than happy to support her with what she wanted to do. 

“We discussed it personally with the surgeons, about how they felt having the cameras around as well because it wasn't just about us, we wanted to make sure everyone was happy. 

“They put our minds at rest as well. Very professional, and we couldn't have asked for better care really, the camera crews and everyone involved were great the way they handled it.”

And for Amelia, it only took around five months after the extensive surgery to get her dancing shoes back on, and she’s now made a full recovery. Not only that, but she's a full 2 inches taller!

It’s a recovery that will continue too, with limited restrictions on what she can do, meaning Amelia is able to explore her passion for dance freely.

On that first dance back, Amelia said: “I was amazing, it was actually amazing. I was so happy.”

When asked if she could say anything to viewers watching at home, Amelia replied: “I think just don't worry because the worst thing you can do is worry and get worked up about it but it's not just you, you're not alone.”

Geordie Hospital will next tonight (Tuesday 15 Feb) at 8pm on Channel 4. All episodes are available to watch now on All4.