Surgery changes Pick­er­ing Brook woman’s life

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - FRONT PAGE -

WITH a hunched back and in crip­pling pain, Ber­na­dine Radice was fac­ing the prospect of liv­ing the rest of her life in agony un­til lifechang­ing surgery 18 months ago.

The 32-year-old Pick­er­ing Brook woman has her sur­geon to thank for cor­rec­tive surgery that re­duced the chronic cur­va­ture of her spine – and four peo­ple who donated their hip bones af­ter hip re­place­ment surgery.

Ber­na­dine was five years old when her mother first sought ad­vice from a doc­tor, con­cerned about her daugh­ter’s pos­ture.

“The doc­tor brushed it off say­ing: ‘She’s lazy, she’s slouch­ing, she’s fine, she’s fine’,” she said.

For years Ber­na­dine en­dured a re­volv­ing door of med­i­cal ap­point­ments un­til one doc­tor took her com­plaint se­ri­ously. She was di­ag­nosed with Scheuer­mann’s dis­ease, a de­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­der of the spine that causes wedg­ing of the ver­te­brae and re­sults in a hunch­back.

Two years of wear­ing a re­stric­tive back brace 23 hours a day, seven days a week did not help and at the age of 18 Ber­na­dine was told her de­for­mity was “cos­metic” and noth­ing could be done to re­lieve her pain.

Her symp­toms wors­ened and four years ago, while pick­ing fruit, her back seized.

“I will never for­get that day. It was hor­rific,” Ber­na­dine said.

In Au­gust 2016 – 25 years af­ter her mother first raised

con­cerns – Ber­na­dine un­der­went cor­rec­tive surgery. Or­thopaedic sur­geon Peter Wood­land cut out the four wedged ver­te­brae, re­placed them with donor bone and in­serted two large rods.

“The re­sults have been amaz­ing,” Ber­na­dine said.

“I have gained 5cm in height. I’ve gone from an 85 per cent cur­va­ture of the spine to 33 per cent, well within the nor­mal range now. And the pain is so much bet­ter – it’s man­age­able.”

Ber­na­dine is wait­ing for Novem­ber, when she will be as­sessed to re­turn to work.

She is shar­ing her story to raise aware­ness about bone and tis­sue do­na­tion and the work of PlusLife, WA’s only bone and tis­sue bank.

PlusLife will open a $10 mil­lion state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity in Mid­land on Satur­day.

Pic­ture: David Baylis d480902

She’s ap­ples: Ber­na­dine Radice pick­ing granny smiths at her fam­ily-owned busi­ness.

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