Mother who had surgery to correct her 'S' shaped spine must now watch her daughter, 13, go through the same ordeal
I would have gone through surgery again if I could spare my daughter, says mother



13:53 GMT, 1 May 2012

A girl of 13 is to have major surgery to correct her curved spine – exactly 20 years after her mother went through the same operation.

Jessica Ingham suffers from a hereditary curvature of the spine known as scoliosis.

The condition can cause severe disability, organ damage and on rare occasions even death if left untreated.

X-ray of Jessica Ingham's scoliosis

Jessica Ingham aged 13 (pictured with mother Jenette)

Jessica and her mother Jenette both suffer from a curvature of the spine known as scoliosis. Left is an xray showing Jessica's 'S' shaped spine

In 1992, Jessica's mother Jenette Ingham had her own S-shaped spine corrected – in spite of warnings of an 83 per cent chance of paralysis as doctors broke all of her ribs and reset them in the correct position and inserted a metal rod.

Now Jessica herself who was diagnosed with the condition last year has to wear a protective brace for 21 hours a day as she prepares for the same corrective surgery in September.

Medical advances render the operation much less high risk than it was two decades ago. But Jessica's younger sister Olivia aged eight is presently being monitored for signs of the condition too.

Today Mrs Ingham, 36, of Burnley, Lancs, said: 'When Jessica was diagnosed with the condition I just kept thinking it wasn't fair. I had gone through it, so why her

'I just felt sick because it was history repeating itself, and I was reliving the worst time of my life as a teenager.

'I only realised it was hereditary when I did research after having Jessica. When my mum got it, I knew then it really did run in families.

'You would take a bullet for your child, so it was knowing I would be sitting with her and knowing what she was going through that upset me – I would have gone through it again for her, if I could.'

Jessica's brace: Jessica currently wears it 21 hours a day. It allows her to play sport

Jessica's brace: Jessica currently wears it 21 hours a day. It allows her to play sport

Jenette recovering from scoliosis surgery in 1992. She said she would go through it all again if she could spare her daughter from it

Jenette recovering from scoliosis surgery in 1992. She said she would go through it all again if she could spare her daughter from it

Jenette was 11-years-old in 1987 when she was first diagnosed with Scoliosis and was was fitted with a torso cast known as a Boston Brace endured countless physiotherapy sessions.

She underwent her operation aged 16 but following a second operation to remove the rod in 1995 Jenette was told she was lucky to be alive after doctors discovered body fluid in her spine began leaking.

Jenette said: 'I had to wear a hard, plastic body brace, which I wore 23 hours a day. I was a very skinny teenager – so I had absolutely no confidence. It made me so body conscious.

'I lost interest at school – at the time I thought to myself there was no point if I was going to end up in a wheelchair.

'After the first operation I spent four weeks in hospital – I missed my GCSEs and saying goodbye to my school friends. I remember going home and my mum telling me my operation was the next day – I was petrified, like a caged animal.

'I had to sign papers that said there was an 83% chance of paralysis. They broke all my ribs and reset them to reduce the hump – I had a double curve, shaped like an 's'.'

'I was 19-years-old when I had the second operation and I nearly died because of the risk of infection. A doctor said to my mum that I was lucky to be walking out alive, never mind walking.

''I had the rod removed because I could feel it on my spine when I sat back. Now I have my good days and bad days, for example if I go to an exercise class and lying flat on the floor, I rock because I have this lump on my back, or if I'm at a family party and have a hard seat, I have to sit forward.'

The scarring on Jenette Ingham's back following scoliosis surgery

Jenette Ingham, her mum, gran and daughters Jessica and Olivia in 2008

Jenette Ingham post-surgery in 1992 (left) and pictured with her mother, grandmother and daughters Jessica and Olivia in 2008. Three generations of the Ingham family suffer from scoliosis

Jenette's mother Jennifer Aspinall, now 65, was in her 50s when she was diagnosed with the same problem in 1990s – although her curvature is less prominent.

The family were then dealt another bombshell when Jenette noticed that her daughter, Jessica, was losing weight and spotted an irregularity in her spine.

Jenette said: 'I quietly walked out the room and tried to tell my husband – but I couldn't speak. Her hip was out, and he noticed it too. I broke down in tears – I instantly kept blaming myself, thinking it was my fault and I'd given it to her.'

Although the doctor said it could be down to different speeds in muscle growth after carrying out an X-ray, Jenette sought a second opinion from specialists.

'I had a gut feeling, I just knew as soon as I saw her back she had Scoliosis. We had to wait another three months to get a Spinecore brace – the curves doubled in that time and you could see her ribs protruding.

'The doctor said if it had moved one more degree it would have been too late for a brace.

'The brace is tight elastic, but more flexible, which means she can play sports in it. I have never been able to play a game of netball in my life – so that was really important to me.'

Jenette Ingham, with daughters Jessica and Olivia and father Kevin

Jenette Ingham, with daughters Jessica and Olivia (right) and father Kevin. Jenette said of Jessica: 'She's amazing and never complains or gets upset'

Although Jessica wasn't too keen in going in for the eight hour operation at first, she has now decided it is the best option after talking things through with her family.

Mrs Ingham said: 'Because the operation is cosmetic, Jessica had to be the one to agree to it. At first, she was refusing and not willing to speak about it. The surgeon warned her that it may not affect her now, but come 15, she would be begging him to operate.

'If she didn't have the operation this year, they wouldn't be able to reduce the disfigurement as well as they could – that's why I still have problems and have a lovely hour-glass figure on one side and straight on the other.

'Doctors say if my spine was straight I would of been about 5'7″ as it is I'm 5'4″. The same thing will happen with Jessica, they will stop her spine from growing, she will gain about 2 inches during the operation, but her true height will never be reached.

'She is petrified of the operation and being left with a scar – although it will be neater and fainter than mine. She's amazing and never complains or gets upset.'

Jessica said: 'I can still do sports, but I have to watch what I do. Sometimes when I stand for a long time it hurts.

'One of the worst things about my condition is that I can't wear the clothes I want to – my brace shows through.'

The family are now trying to raise awareness of scoliosis, a condition which affects one in every 2000 people, and are appealing for donations to the to the British Scoliosis Research Foundation.

A spokesman for The Scoliosis Association UK said: 'The cause of degenerative scoliosis can be attributed to weakening bones and other degenerative conditions; however, the cause of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is unknown.

'Although important research continues in this area, including into the genetic basis for AIS, there are no identifiable causes for this condition.'