Model Zoe’s metal spine
Despite scoliosis battle she vows to follow her dreams
STUNNING Miss Ireland contestant Zoe Coady has a metal spine after undergoing two massive operations. But the 20-year-old part-time model said nothing was going to stop her trying to achieve her ambitions. At the launch of Miss Ireland 2017 this week the darkhaired beauty revealed she suffered from scoliosis which had twisted her spine into an S-shape when she was growing up. ‘When I was 13 or 14 I came back from a holiday and had an infection so they took an x-ray and noticed my spine was curving,’ said Zoe, from Tullamore. ‘They sent me to different hospitals and then realised it was getting worse as I grew and grew.’ She had her first surgery when she was 16 – a massive 16-hour operation in Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, to straighten the spine which had bent to an angle of 60 to 70 degrees. ‘When you looked at my back my body went in a wave,’ said Zoe. ‘I was in hospital for a week and I was not able to move. Even to sit up, a doctor had to come and hold me. Then I had to learn to walk again because it affects your lungs and all your organs because the spine is moved.’
Zoe, who works at BoyleSports, had to use a wheelchair and walking frame in the weeks that followed.
‘My dad, Christopher, had to take me on little strolls to get me back walking again. He’s in the army and had to take loads of time off work to look after me.’
It took Zoe six months to recover, but during a subsequent check-up doctors found a steel rod and screw had broken and had detached from her spine so she was put on an emergency surgery list. She was 18 when she underwent a second major operation at the same hospital.
‘This time they decided to fuse a rod to my spine all the way down while fixing the other one,’ she said. ‘I now have a rod to the bottom of my spine with 20 screws, two on each side all the way down. They are screwed into the bone and it keeps it straight.’
Again her father had to take time off work to help get her back on her feet. She said: ‘Everything is fine now and I have recovered a lot. Some of the people who were in hospital with me have been getting years of operations.
‘The surgeon said I had made a good recovery and I was determined to get out and do my thing. It helped that I was so young and could get a 100 per cent recovery.
‘Because it was my teenage years I was constantly growing and that’s the safest time to have it done. Now I am determined to just get back to reality and not let it stop me at all.
‘My dad has scoliosis too, but he can’t get anything done because he is 52.’
Zoe added that she hoped Offaly winning the Rose of Tralee last week was a good omen for her.
‘Maybe it will bring me luck in the Miss Ireland competition. It would be great for Offaly to win both in the same year!’
‘I had to learn to walk again’ ‘I’m determined to get back to reality’
pATIenT: Zoe Coady says scoliosis will not stop her from achieving her ambitions