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Sawbridgeworth teenager with scoliosis seeking life-changing operation in Germany

After wearing a back brace 23 hours a day every day for four years, Sawbridgeworth teenager Holi Kingston was delighted and relieved to learn her scoliosis had been cured.

Her mum Suzanne told the Stortford Indie it was “a great day” – but eight months on, the family realised their joy was premature.

The curvature in Holi’s spine had nearly doubled and her spine was twisting at an alarming rate.

Suzanne Kingston with daughters Holi and Alis
Suzanne Kingston with daughters Holi and Alis

Suzanne said the best treatment for her daughter was tethering, but medics would not put Holi on trials for the operation as, at 16, she was too old.

A private operation in the UK with a London surgeon would cost £50,000, so the family decided on surgery in Germany.

Scoliosis is abnormal curvature of the spine and the Kingston family know all about the effects of the disease as Holi’s older sister Alis suffered from it.

Holi Kingston with sister Alis (46813957)
Holi Kingston with sister Alis (46813957)

They managed to raise the £33,000 needed for the surgery in Germany for Alis when she was 16, with help from the Sawbridgeworth community.

“The community has been beyond brilliant,” said Suzanne, a teacher at Reedings Junior School in the town. “Everybody rallied and that meant we could take Alis to Germany three years ago.” Suzanne highlighted the help provided by Sawbridgeworth Evangelical Congregational Church minister Gary Hanson as key.

Now they face the same challenge, with a date set for Holi’s life-changing surgery on July 28. Suzanne revealed they are around £6,000 short of the £33,000 target.

The success of Alis’ surgery spurs them on. The 19-year-old is studying English language and linguistics at Birmingham University and never thinks back to when she had the operation.

“Alis’ recovery was nothing short of miraculous,” said Suzanne, who added Holi was desperate to get it done.

The family are using their savings built up over the past three years, but need just that little bit of help to get them over the line.

Suzanne admitted Covid had made fundraising much harder as many of the events they organised last time were indoors. “We're desperate for support and would be so grateful for any help,” she said.

For Holi, who attends Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth and hopes to study A-levels at Herts and Essex High School sixth form in Bishop’s Stortford, relief from the daily pain would be so liberating.

The curvature of her spine means she would not be able to wear a prom dress at her end-of-year ball and the operation would mean she could look forward to her A-levels.

If you wish to make a donation, see gofund.me/bf3c7b5d.

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