Brave Carrick teen Megan Fleming recovering after spinal op in Turkey paid for by well-wishers
A 14--year-old Carrickfergus girl who was told she would have to wait a year for an NHS operation to correct her twisted spine has returned home after well-wishers raised more than £20,000 to have the procedure performed privately abroad.
Severe scoliosis caused constant pain in Megan Fleming's back and arms, meaning she couldn't breathe or eat properly.
On Monday night Megan, her mum Karen and dad William returned home after the life-changing operation in Turkey to straighten the 100-degree curvature of her spine.
Now recovering from the 14-hour procedure, X-rays show a dramatic improvement, and the schoolgirl was on her feet less than 12 hours after the op.
"Megan is a superstar, she's such a fighter," a proud Karen said.
"Usually the operation lasts between eight and 10 hours, but Megan was in there for 14 hours, as her surgery was so complicated.
"They opened her from her neck to just above her bottom, then stripped everything back to see her spine.
"They put halo traction around her head and weights were put on it to help straighten her spine during surgery.
"She had four rods put in to hold her spine - usually they only need two. When the surgeon examined her they told us that one of her lungs was completely squashed down, as her spine was sitting on it, and there was additional pressure on her heart.
"She was never hungry, because her stomach was being squashed. The surgeon said her case was critical and he was glad she was being seen now.
"Last September we were told that she would have to wait a year for the surgery, then earlier this month we were told that she could be treated on the NHS in March. But she couldn't have waited until next year."
Karen revealed that surgeons had lost the "signal" to Megan's legs four times during the procedure - risking paralysis from the hips down.
Fortunately, doctors were able to rectify the situation and complete the procedure, with astounding results.
"Our surgeon is world-class and he said he has never seen anyone recover as quickly as Megan," Karen said.
"They are actually doing a case study on her as her condition was so complex and she did so well. Less than 12 hours after surgery she was up walking.
"Her pain is being managed with medication and she is going to start intensive physiotherapy.
"She will always be a bit more restricted in her movement, but at least she won't be in pain."
Megan was discharged from the Istanbul hospital on Monday, and flew into Dublin Airport that evening, where she was met by charity Glengormley Ambulance and Rescue Unit.
Arriving at her door, Megan was greeted by bunting and 'Welcome home' banners erected by well-wishers.
Karen added: "This will change Megan's life. She has set up her own charity called Megan's Wish, which she plans to use to help other children with scoliosis. We are looking forward to a brighter future."