A teenage girl suffering severe curvature of the spine is being forced to raise £50k for a private op to stop her becoming wheelchair-bound – because of NHS delays.
The family of Aimee Ellis, 13, have been told she needs an urgent op within six months but will have to wait 18 months just to see an NHS specialist.
They are now seeking to raise cash to pay for an operation to correct the severe curve of her spine which is pressing into her lungs.
Aimee Ellis, 13, has two 60 degree curves in her spine – 40 degrees or more is regarded as severe.
She now struggles to do daily activities as the spine presses on her nerves, making her collapse from the numbness and tingling in her limbs.
The curves are 64 and 54 degrees and make it hard for her to use her hands, which she is worried will stop her dreams of becoming an animator or writer.
She now needs invasive spinal surgery to straighten her spine- which would give her an extra five inches to her current 5 feet 4 inches height once straightened.
Her parents only discovered she had curvature of her spine – scoliosis – when she unexpectedly fainted in 2021.
Mum Tracy Ellis, a 39-year-old trainee counsellor, said: “It feels like a constant battle, it’s so frustrating.
“Between the NHS waitlist and the miscommunication with the GP, it’s her life they’re messing with.”
Aimee was watching a Remembrance Day Parade in November 2021 when she suddenly hit the floor.
She fainted, knocking her two front teeth out and grazing her face and knees. This was to be the first of countless fainting episodes.
The schoolgirl from Southend, Essex, also began to get numbness and tingling in her limbs causing her to collapse, and developed severe back pain.
After Tracy chased NHS doctors repeatedly, she was told Aimee’s ‘urgent’ case would take 12-18 months to be seen.
Tracy eventually gave up and went to the private UK Scoliosis Clinic in Chelmsford, Essex, who told her her child needed urgent surgery.
The private doctor said the £50,000 procedure would need to be done within the next six months.
Left later, the risk of nerve damage is likely to increase Aimee’s need to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life, which she currently doesn’t use.
Tracy said: “Finding out about her spine was a real shock.
“We hadn’t noticed the curves in her spine until six months after the first fainting episode.
“She’s in a lot of pain. It is horrible for me to see her in pain every day.
“She is a trooper, she doesn’t moan, but you can see she is in pain.”
According to Tracy, who has paused her studies to stay at home with her daughter, Aimee is coping remarkably well.
Tracy said: “She’s a wise kid, wiser than me most of the time.
“She has this saying, ‘it is what it is’. She doesn’t want the surgery but knows she needs it.
“She just wants to hang out with her friends and do normal stuff like going out on their bikes and shopping in town.
“She wants to go to be able to go to a Girl Guides camp in July, so we’ll see.”
According to her mum, Aimee is a “bookworm” and loves school so still attends when the pain is manageable.
Tracy, who lives with husband Grant Ellis, step-dad to Aimee, is now trying to raise as much money as she can for her daughter’s urgent life-saving treatment.
Started six days ago on the online crowdfunding website GoFundMe, they have already raised £2,345 for the surgery.
The family are now taking on a 20-mile charity walk in March to raise money and awareness of Aimee’s condition.