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Snow Patrol star Gary Lightbody donates guitar to help fund teen's vital operation


On song: Ayva Hennessy with the guitar for auction donated by Gary Lightbody

On song: Ayva Hennessy with the guitar for auction donated by Gary Lightbody

On song: Ayva Hennessy with the guitar for auction donated by Gary Lightbody

The family of a Co Down teenager, who is desperately awaiting spinal fusion surgery, have been left stunned after Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody donated a signed guitar as part of their fundraising appeal.

The Fender Stratocaster guitar will go under the hammer in a bid to help the family of Ayva Hennessy (13) raise £45,000 for her life-changing operation.

Ayva, from Bangor, was diagnosed with scoliosis aged six and a year later she had support rods inserted into her spine to correct an 84 degree curve.

Since then she has had eight surgeries to maintain and lengthen the rods as she has grown.

She was due to be reviewed in March with a view to more lengthening surgery in June, but this was cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis.

On August 31, the day before Northern Ireland's schools reopened, the Sullivan Upper pupil heard three cracks in her back and felt severe pain.

Ayva was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital by her dad Stuart (41), a special needs teacher,

The hospital initially said it was unlikely to be able to conduct an operation in the near future unless one rod moved and protruded through her skin or the other rod broke under the strain, resulting in an emergency situation.

Since then Ayva has been unable to return to school with her friends as she struggles to walk or even sit up alone.

Stuart and his wife Leigh (41), an NHS carer, felt they had no choice but to attempt to arrange surgery for their daughter privately abroad.

The couple, who also have two sons Xander (10) and Lachlan (7), launched a fundraising drive which has hit £33,000 in just two weeks thanks to donations from friends, family and complete strangers.

"We have been given a provisional date for surgery next Monday at the Royal but there is a chance this will not happen due to shortages in beds and staff and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions," Leigh explained. "Our plan B is private surgery in Turkey."

Gary Lightbody's sister Sarah was so moved by Ayva's plight that she donated the signed guitar to be auctioned.

"We have been totally blown away and humbled by everyone's generosity and support," Leigh added.

To enter the competition, visit Ayva's Journey to Spinal Fusion page on Facebook to make a minimum £10 donation.

Belfast Telegraph