Once A Top Athlete Now Can't Walk Up The Stairs Without Fain
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An 11 year old girl was clearing adult-height hurdles with such speed that she was soon representing her county in competitions. But dreams of a bright future have come to a screeching halt for the 14-year-old. Two years ago, she started to become so short of breath that she was unable to climb a set of stairs without fainting.

She has pectus excavatum, also known as funnel chest, where an overgrowth of cartilage on either side of the breastbone pushes the ribs and breastbone inwards. This was causing her ribs and chest bone to slowly crush her heart and lungs.

She had it mildly when she was younger but the extent of her problem only became apparent after the age of 11, following a growth spurt. In extreme cases, those affected are left with a fist-sized cavity in their chest, which may restrict everyday movement and make it hard to breathe.

She was advised she needed the surgery at 11 but was told to wait two years until she had finished a growth spurt. In that time her condition has significantly deteriorated. She knows how beneficial the operation can be as her brother, 18, who also has PE, successfully underwent surgery in August 2019.

Autumn was due to be formally booked in for her operation in October 2019 but the ban came into force two weeks before. The family has appealed twice to the National Clinical Commissioners asking for her operation to be funded through an Individual Funding Request (IFR) and both times has been turned down.

The surgery is not without risks it requires four days in hospital and a month to recover, and there may be pain and a risk of infection but it can be life changing. The girl, meanwhile, hopes for a policy change. She says: ‘To be able to walk about and breathe as normal seems like a distant dream, I just hope one day I get my op and it becomes a reality.’

Dr. T●●●●z H●●●●●●i and 9 others like this