Carrick teen to undergo surgery abroad

Megan and her mum, Karen.  INCT 40-746-CON
Megan and her mum, Karen. INCT 40-746-CON

A Carrick teenager is to undergo spinal surgery abroad after being told she faces a lengthy delay for the procedure in Northern Ireland.

Megan Fleming will travel to Turkey with her family next month for the operation under Istanbul-based spinal surgeon, Dr Ahmet Alanay.

An X-ray of Megan's spine (picture courtesy of Karen Fleming).  INCT 40-741-CON

An X-ray of Megan's spine (picture courtesy of Karen Fleming). INCT 40-741-CON

The 14-year-old was diagnosed with scoliosis, which causes a sideways curve of the spine.

During a recent appointment at Musgrave Park Hospital, it was discovered that the curvature of Megan’s spine had increased from 77 to 100 degrees in less than a year - leading to fears for her health if the condition continues to progress at the same rate.

The family were initially told of a wait of up to one year to have the surgery on the NHS, with medical transfers to other public health facilities halted due to the political deadlock at Stormont.

Meanwhile, the private cost of the procedure in the UK could be up to £50,000.

Despite a recent funding boost leading to an improvement in surgical waiting times, it could still be six to eight months before Megan is offered treatment on the NHS, according to her mum Karen.

The family travelled to Dublin two weeks ago to meet Dr Alanay, who was attending a conference in the city.

Although significantly cheaper abroad, the surgery will still cost in the region of 35,000 Euro, Karen added. “It will come with its own pressures as we will be in Turkey for about four weeks. It will take around eight months for full recovery and she’ll be off school, but at this stage we’re just relieved that she’s going to get sorted.

“There were some days she’s had to come out of school because she’s had so much pain in her back.”

The local mum previously revealed that the condition was already putting significant stress on Carrickfergus College student Megan, who is a keen dancer.

“Megan will no doubt deteriorate; there will be extra stress on her heart and lungs and [the] curve will get worse,” Karen said.

More than £14,500 has already been raised towards the treatment thanks to an online campaign set up by Megan’s aunt Elaine McCrum.

A number of fundraisers have also taken place to boost the private treatment fund while a charity, Megan’s Wish, is in the process of being registered.