Fundraiser for NI teen paralysed from her stomach down after 8-hour op

Anne, Dessie and Carla
-Credit: (Image: Submitted)


Family and friends of a brave NI teenager who went through major spinal surgery, have launched a fundraiser to help her road to recovery.

Carla Hughes, from Dungannon, is currently in recovery from an injury to her spinal cord during complicated spinal surgery in London. The 14-year-old had surgery on April 30, and after the eight-hour operation, feeling in her legs had gone.

After scans and further surgery, her family says it was discovered that some of the metal work damaged her spinal cord and she was paralysed from her stomach down to her feet. The family say they were warned this was a rare complication.

READ MORE: NI mum diagnosed with cancer after finding ice-cube shaped lump while pregnant

Carla's mum, Anne Hughes, said she is now fundraising to "help with our beautiful daughter Carla’s recovery", who went through the complicated operation because she had two curves in her spine, lordosis and scoliosis. Carla has FSHD muscular dystrophy and has been a wheelchair user since age 11.

"Her consultant is hopeful her spinal cord will recover in time with specialist rehabilitation," Anne said.

"She is showing some small improvements but it is very slow. Carla has been moved to a special unit in Stanmore Hospital here in London and has started her rehabilitation. Unfortunately we can’t go home to Northern Ireland for this as there are no suitable rehabilitation units for spinal cord injuries in children.

Carla Hughes
Carla Hughes -Credit:Submitted

"This may take weeks or months and everything is very uncertain. We are trying our best to keep Carla’s spirits up while battling our own fears and worries.

"We are setting up this fundraiser to help with ongoing costs facing us as a family. Dessie and I are here alone and feeling very isolated. We have two sons at home and would love to be able to fly them over every so often to spend time with their little sister. We would also like to take short trips home occasionally to spend time with our boys and enjoy some family time.

"We have promised Carla we will book a shopping trip to New York when she recovers. We hope this will help motivate her to work hard with her rehabilitation and any funds raised will also go towards the cost of the trip.

Dessie Hughes with his daughter Carla
Dessie Hughes with his daughter Carla -Credit:Submitted

"We both have jobs and, although they are supporting us, we know this can’t happen indefinitely, we will need to take unpaid leave at some stage.

"It is such an uncertain and worrying time for us all but we are determined to do whatever we can to get Carla well again and get her home to her family and friends."

Over £4,000 has been raised for Carla, through donations from family, friends, the local community and strangers, who have been touched by Carla's story.

"We are blown away by this amazing amount everyone has donated," Anne added.

Carla Hughes
Carla Hughes -Credit:Submitted

"All the lovely comments have lifted our spirits, to know that we are being supported from home helps us to keep going. Carla is making positive progress although frustratingly slow. However it is positive and we will take that.

"We are expected to move to the Rehabilitation centre at Stanmore by the end of the week where Carla is determined to work hard.

"Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your donations, no matter the amount."

Please click this link to support Carla's fundraiser.

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here.