15 July 2022

Brave teenager raises over £6,000 to support Scoliosis research

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Thirteen-year-old Molly Macfarlane and her family have raised over £6,000 to support Scoliosis research, a cause close to their hearts.

After being diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of twelve, Molly received surgery to correct her spine. To say thank you for the care that Molly received and to support ongoing research to help others with a similar diagnosis, Molly and her parents undertook a triathlon style challenge covering 500K in May by walking, running, cycling swimming and skating. Molly covered most of her kilometres by walking. The family also organised a bake sale in June to raise more awareness and funds during Scoliosis Awareness Month.

Explaining more about Molly’s journey, her mum, Meg Macfarlane said:

“Last summer, Molly was playing with friends on a slip and slide in the garden when I noticed that her shoulder blade was sticking out more than the other side.

“After I looked at her back more closely, I became concerned. We took Molly to the GP who suspected scoliosis and referred her to the Scottish National Spine Service.

“The x-rays showed a double curve in Molly’s spine, which we were told would progress further as she was just at the start of her growth spurt. The spinal surgeon at NHS Lothian’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Mr Tsirikos, told us that Molly would need surgery to fuse the vertebrae, along with metal rods and screws to hold the fusion in place. This would improve the spine as much as possible and stop it from continuing to curve. From this diagnosis to Molly’s spinal fusion surgery was just 5 weeks.

“The hours waiting for the news that the surgery was over, as well as the days and weeks that followed, were of course challenging and difficult, but what made it so much easier to bear was the amazing support and kindness shown by Mr Tsirikos, Hilary Sharp and the whole team at Edinburgh Sick Kids. We had utter faith in them and knew for certain she [Molly] had been placed in the best hands possible.”

As Molly continued her recovery and went from strength to strength over the following months, the family started to hear about more teenagers who had also been diagnosed with scoliosis, with two requiring surgery and two needing to be monitored and braced. With this in mind, and the fact that the family had known so little about scoliosis before the diagnosis, Molly was determined to raise more awareness about it, and also raise money directly for the Edinburgh Spinal Team through NHS Lothian Charity’s Scoliosis Research Fund to enable further research to be done on the condition to help others in future.

Meg added:

“We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received during the fundraising and have been thrilled to raise this significant amount of funding. Molly was able to talk to a friend of ours who had spinal fusion in the 80s before she had her own surgery, and to know how much the surgery has improved in that time is astounding. We very much hope that continued research is able to improve these techniques even more for other children facing scoliosis.”

Mr Thanos Tsirikos, Clinical Lead and Consultant Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon, said:

“Scoliosis treatment has advanced considerably in the past few decades and this can achieve optimum curve correction and good clinical results. It is with continuous research and close monitoring of our outcomes that we can ensure that we are offering to our patients the best possible care while reducing the risk of major complications. 

“Molly, her siblings and parents have put an enormous effort to raise an incredible amount of money in order to support our research and academic work through the NHS Lothian Charity Scoliosis Research Fund. I am sure that their fundraising effort will allow us to continue with our research work that will benefit lots of patients like Molly that are treated as part of our National Service. 

“Molly has always been extremely brave, and she has faced her journey through surgery with a very positive attitude and determination. I have been amazed on how well she has done, and it has been an absolute pleasure and honour for me to look after her during her scoliosis treatment.”    

Tumong Edwards at NHS Lothian Charity said:

“On behalf of the spinal department, patients and their family I’d like to say a huge thank you to Molly, Meg and the Macfarlane family for all they’ve done to raise such a significant amount towards Scoliosis research. This will help our NHS innovate and improve outcomes for so many more people. As the official charity of NHS Lothian, we’re here to support our NHS make healthcare better for everyone and people like the Macfarlane family have helped us do this now and for future generations.” 

Scoliosis is a spinal condition that is usually affecting fit and healthy teenage patients during a period of rapid skeletal development. The development of a spinal curve produces major cosmetic concerns impacting on the patients emotional and physical balance during a sensitive period of growth and could cause severe anxiety to the teenagers and their families.

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