A FOURTEEN-year-old girl from Strabane who underwent a significant spinal operation in November has been told this week that she can return to her favourite pastime – dancing.
Natasha O’Connor was diagnosed with a curvature of the spine – ‘Thoracic Scoliosis’ – in July and there followed an extensive fundraising campaign to allow her to travel to Turkey to have the vital surgery.
Scoliosis is a condition where a person’s spine twists and curves to the side. It can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10 to 15. The most common location for scoliosis is the ‘thoracic spine’, the upper/middle part of the backbone.
However as Anterior scoliosis corrective surgery, commonly known as VBT isn’t available on the NHS, the family had no alternative but to travel to Turkey. The total cost of the surgery and recuperation was £35,000.
Recently though, Natasha’s surgeon Dr Alanay from Acibadem Hospital in Istanbul has said that the local dancer has recovered so quickly and to such an extent, she can return to the dance floor.
“She’s been dancing since she was four,” Natasha’s mum, Mandy enthused.
“But it’s unbelievable. The change in her has been unreal.
“The doctor said that from what he can see from the x-ray, she can dance again.
She still has follow-up appointments in May and November but for now she’s able to get back to dancing which means everything to her. She’s just delighted.”
Natasha dances with Encore Performing Arts Academy in Strabane and this week returned to practice with a smile on her face.
“She’d been able to go to practice for a few weeks but she was only able
to sit there and watch,” Mandy continued.
“Now she just can’t wait to get back on the floor. We’re all over the moon for her.”
The local mum also urged others in a similar position to Natasha not to wait on the NHS.
“Don’t hang around on the long waiting list on the NHS,” Mandy said. “Don’t wait. Go for it. To see that Natasha is able to return to dancing again it’s unbelievable.”
Mandy also extended a word of thanks to everyone who has supported her daughter on this life-changing journey.
“Dr Alanay is a world-renowned surgeon and the support he has been has been unbelievable,” she added.
“I would like to thank Caroline Barker at Encore and all the dance mums and Natasha’s friends for all their support. It has meant so much to us.”