A young girl is in a race against time to raise money for surgery to fix a triple curve in her spine – so she can carry on kickboxing.
Martial arts fan Izzy Harwood-Lucas was diagnosed with a severe scoliosis curve this summer and has three bends in her spine.
The family were out walking their dog when they noticed 11-year-old Izzy’s back was hunched over.
Her parents had not spotted the condition earlier because the lumbar curve was hiding the middle curve – which has bent the spine at over 40 degrees.
James Harwood-Lucas, Izzy’s dad, said: “When we got home we saw there was a lump.
“We got lucky, our GP used to be a spinal doctor and was able to diagnose it straight away.
“It’s quite rare because kids who develop scoliosis only normally get one curve but she’s got three.”
The firefighter added: “We’re a tight family and we’ve really pulled together, it came as a complete shock to hear your daughter needs surgery that could affect her quality of life.
“Her mum and I would do anything to help her.”
The youngster, from Harrietsham, Kent, wants to avoid fusion surgery because it would stunt her growth and force her to hang up her gloves.
James said: “Kickboxing is a really important part of her identity. It makes her personality.
“Everybody knows her as ‘Izzy who does kickboxing.’
“She’s been doing it since was three. We took her there just for a bit of discipline but she ended up loving it.”
There is hope Izzy can keep kicking, thanks to a pioneering operation called Vertebral Tethering Surgery.
The operation could drastically reduce the severity of Izzy’s spinal curves if it succeeds.
He added: “We don’t want her to have the fusion surgery unless it is the last resort.
“For many people, unfortunately it’s the only option. But luckily for Izzy, for now it’s not.”
Surgeons would put a screw in each vertebra which would be connected by a fibre to be gradually adjusted to straighten the spine.
The emergent surgery is not yet available on the NHS and would cost £60,000 at London’s St George’s Hospital.
In addition to the lofty sum, doctors have told the family they only have until March to raise the cash because Izzy’s impending growth spurt risks thwarting the surgery.
The steep target initially daunted the family, but they are now more confident after raising £37,000 through a crowdfunding campaign.
James, a London Fire Brigade officer, said: “I shared the campaign on the internal email system at work and it went out to fire stations across London.
“We have received donations from people who I have never even met.
“We are overwhelmed by people’s generosity. We’ve even had a magician offering to perform for free at one of our fundraising events.”
Izzy, who is also a keen singer, currently wears a restrictive body-moulded brace for eight hours a day to stop the curves deteriorating.
This will be stepped up to 23 hours a day until the operation.
James said: “She is coping well, but has good and bad days since she has had to start wearing the brace. She finds it uncomfortable and it causes her aches and pains.”
Izzy was due to have a competitive fight last year, but it was postponed.
James said: “They couldn’t find a competitor. Hopefully she can have this operation and can fight a few months after that.
“The surgery is a glimmer of hope for us. We have organised a fundraising ball in February and really hope to raise the £60,000 by March.”
The family is raising money on their Just Giving page, www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/isabelleharwood-lucas and ask anyone that might wish to, to donate.