By Stephan Lehman
Community members have rallied behind Marais Steyn Park resident, Leigh Stephens, in her quest to raise funds for a life-changing spinal surgery.
Today, August 23, Leigh will undergo a 10-hour life-altering operation at a local hospital.
27-year-old Leigh said when she was a teenager she was diagnosed with Scoliosis and, until two months ago, had lived a normal life.
One Saturday morning in June this all changed, however.
The Edenvale mother of two said her legs just collapsed and she couldn’t get back up.
After going to the hospital where she underwent MRI scans and X-rays, Leigh was told her lower back was degenerating and was diagnosed with Kyphoscoliosis.
“I couldn’t understand it because for most of my life I had lived with Scoliosis. When in pain, I would take painkillers,” said Leigh.
Leigh explained that a spine is meant to be straight but hers is skewed.
She described the pain as having a constantly knotted back.
“It’s as if you have a pulled muscle – permanently.”
Leigh said her spinal disks are degenerating and her nerves are being compressed because of Scoliosis.
The intense pain requires Leigh to do simple tasks – which people take for granted – in short bursts.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done to assist Leigh besides intrusive surgery.
Leigh explained that in order to straighten her spine two metal rods, 22 screws and a base plate will be attached to her spine.
She said in order to attach the base plate, the surgeon will have to go through the front of her abdomen.
All in all the surgery will take 10 hours.
Although Leigh does have medical aid, the shortfall for the operation is R70 000.
If she doesn’t get the surgery Leigh could be paralysed by the age of 30 or 40.
For the mother of two this is not an option.
“To a parent children are the most important people in his or her life. I’m not doing the surgery for myself but for my two boys,” said Leigh.
She explained that although she can spend time playing with her sons, the Scoliosis limits the amount of time she spends with them.
She can only stay in one position for about 20 minutes before she has to change it.
In order to get funds to cover the shortfall on her medical costs, Leigh’s mother began a fund-raising initiative on Go Get Funding.
Leigh said the community of Edenvale has come to her assistance.
One of her sons attends Elma Park Pre-Primary School which has also stepped up its support by arranging fund-raising drives.
“People from the school are concerned and make an effort to treat me like a family member,” said Leigh.
Principal of the school, Elizabeth Human who is also known as Teacher Lizzie, said the school hosted a week-long fundraiser till August 18 for Leigh’s surgery.
“When there is a family member of the school in crisis, we help,” said Teacher Lizzie.
She said although the donation drive has ended, any further donations would go towards Leigh’s medical costs.
Elizabeth explained that the school always comes to the assistance of its family because supporting the family enhances a child’s ability to learn.
Leigh said she is excited about her surgery as it will give her the opportunity to spend more time with her children.
The surgery will be done on August 23.
To get in touch with Leigh, send her an email on: firstname.lastname@example.org