30 operations – Emma’s story

By Hannah Martin,

This article & video contain graphic images.

Research shows the average Briton will under-go two surgeries in their life. This hasn’t been the case for Emma who’s endured 30 surgeries, 20 years of rehabilitation and 10 years bed-bound.

At the age of seven, Emma was in a car accident, nearly loosing her life. After weeks in intensive care at Great Ormond Street hospital in London, she came out of her coma to find her leg in traction and held together with pins from her foot right up to her hip. The rest of Emma’s operations mainly took place at Liverpool’s Royal Infirmary.



Speaking with Emma, who is now 27 she said: “It was a really difficult thing to process, I was told my leg would never grow by itself again. It was broken in multiple places and I’d suffered extensive ligament and structural damage.

“I had to make a huge decision for someone at that age. Either loose my leg entirely, stunt the growth of my ‘good’ leg, or go through years of operations and rehabilitation to try and salvage the one I had.” Emma and her family decided to try and save her left leg by growing it mechanically as the rest of her grew naturally.

“The whole process was incredibly intense; nothing went as planned. A doctor broke my femur when I was awake, by trying to over stretch my ligaments when my bone was too soft and my femur just snapped in to a C shape. I was in a day clinic at the time – I screamed until the ambulance arrived, I must have terrified other patients but I was only 12. After that an internal pin that was supposed to hold my femur together pushed its way out – it was like a scene from the movie, Alien. Both of these experiences haunt me to this day – people ask me all the time what compensation I got but I think my parents knew that what happened was an accident and they just wanted us to focus on my recovery.

“It’s a strange relationship I have with my leg and what I’ve been through. I’m immensely proud, and I’m doing better than doctors every thought possible. However it’s sent me to some pretty dark places, I became addicted to drink and drugs for about 10 years and I now suffer with PTSD as a result.”

Emma’s mum, Denny, 62 gave us an insight in to what life was like for Emma growing up: “The situation itself and the decisions we had to make were awful. It stopped Emma from being able to do so much, she couldn’t ride a bike, or run and she’s spent so much of her life in and out of hospital. She’s spent a few Christmases and birthdays in hospital. I can’t believe how far she’s come, and neither can the doctors and physiotherapists. She’s worked so hard for this result – physio every day when her joints weren’t too sore and she’s been going to the gym for years now trying to build up muscle. She exceeded every mile stone her surgeon set and I’m so proud of where she is now.”


Emma finished by saying: “Looking back over everything; the pain, the times I felt utter despair and feeling very alone and isolated – I often think, maybe I should have made a different decision when I was seven. If I’d lost my leg I’d have learnt how to use an artificial one – at least with that I wouldn’t have lost so many years of my life and people can even run with them, they’re amazing! I still suffer with pain in my knee to this day, so who knows what the future holds, maybe I’ll go bionic in the future! But right now I’m happier than I thought possible – I’m off the drink and drugs and now spend my free-time going on hikes or to the gym. I hope I don’t have to set foot in a hospital for a while and I can just enjoy a operation free life at least for a little while.”

Mersey Mash contacted the Royal Liverpool for a response but so far haven’t received a reply.

Names were changed for the purpose of this article and identity was concealed.


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