A teenager from Grimsby has become the youngest person in the country to have pioneering surgery to lengthen one of her legs by using magnets.
Sophie Lewis suffers from a pelvic deformity which leaves her in pain and forces her to walk on tip toes on her right leg. Now though, her bones are being grown by manipulating magnets and she's added around four centimetres to her leg since June.
Mr James Fernandes, an orthopaedic surgeon at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, carried out the operation on Sophie.
It’s been fantastic to be able to perform this operation on the youngest person so far. This new technology we’re using is very advanced. We are starting to be able to use this on patients who are younger and younger. The nails have now been modified to the growing child.
Our centre is known internationally for its orthopaedic work. We advise and treat hundreds of children every year with limb abnormalities and are a major centre for training the next generation of paediatric orthopaedic surgeons. Hopefully now we can treat more children in this way reducing the pain and recovery time.”
I was worried and excited because I knew I was the youngest person to have this surgery. But I had a lot of confidence in the surgeon. I’m just looking forward now to getting on with my life. The doctors decided it was better for me to have this operation because I'm hoping to be a spinal surgeon so I'll spend the majority of my time standing up. If they lengthen my leg it will mean the pain should subside everywhere else.
I did want to be a dance teacher but then I got really interested in orthopaedic surgery and now i'd like to be a surgeon. I think it's important there's someone understanding what patients are trying to say.
We’ve been to conferences and met a few people who know about my condition but no one has seen anything like it. The doctors in Sheffield have been fantastic and I’m really glad they recommended me for this operation so I can beat the pain.”
Sophie was born with a pelvic deformity which means her legs were not aligned properly. One hip almost touched her rib cage and she was having to take 13 pain killers a day. She was also struggling to walk because of the pain.
The device inserted in her bone will allow her, without pain, to lengthen her own leg 1mm a day over 60 days by hovering magnets over key points in the bone.
Just 330 of these operations have been done in the world so far and only 10 in the UK all on adults.