Little Charlie ‘keeping great’ after treatment

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A Tyrone toddler who received intensive treatment in the US to correct a spinal curve is “keeping great”, according to his mum.

Little Charlie Ferris, from Ballinderry, will celebrate his third birthday on Wednesday with a trip to the seaside.

Charlie was four months old when he was diagnosed with infantile scoliosis, a rare condition affecting the spine and which, if left untreated, can deform the chest wall and crush the lungs, heart and other organs.

Mum Donna and husband were devastated when they received the news in October 2015, and set about finding treatment for Charlie which did not involve invasive surgery.

After many days and nights of research they got in touch with the Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadephia specialising in spinal deformities and injuries.

“On 3rd April, 2016, Jody and myself flew out with our family to Philadelphia,” said Donna. “On 4th April we had our initial evaluation with the consultant. On 8th April Charlie had an MRI of his full spine under anaesthesia. On 12th April we received the news that Charlie’s MRI results had come back normal. A few moments later Charlie was taken for casting under anaesthesia.

“Charlie has begun and will continue to have a series of Mehta casts applied to try to correct the curve in his spine. This treatment is ongoing and Charlie will have to get his cast re-applied every eight weeks.”

The family recently returned from Philadelphia after their 13th trip. The doctors had managed to get Charlie’s curve down to between 15-20 degrees, now its down to 10 degrees. The family are delighted with his progress to date.

In highlighting his plight, Donna said they want to raise awareness of the condition and the need for similar treatment to become available in Belfast.

Thanking everyone who has supported them over the years, she said she had been “very determined” that Charlie would not face painful surgery at such a young age and was glad she had opted for the casting techniques.