A TEENAGE girl is walking tall after undergoing an operation to correct a snake-like double curve in her spine.
Emily Crosby's spine curved at a 90 degree angle at the top before twisting 50 degrees in the opposite direction further down - sticking out like a "shark's fin" when she bent forward.
The 13-year-old's dance teacher initially spotted that her back was misaligned and doctors diagnosed her with one of the worst cases of scoliosis - or curvature of the spine- they had ever seen.
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The schoolgirl underwent 11-hours of surgery to have a titanium rod inserted into her back to straighten the bones.
Her spine was so curved that her lungs became crammed in between her ribs and could have punctured.
Her mother Jackie, 45, of Seaton Carew, said: "It was awful. We thought the doctor was showing us an x-ray of the worst case scenario but it was actually my daughter's spine on the screen.
The before and after shots of Emily's back shows the incredible work carried out over 11-hours of surgery
"Emily is very fit and active so we never knew anything was wrong, she never felt any pain."
Emily recovered well from last June's operation and is back to full fitness - training with Seaton Academy of Dance and taking part in a netball tournament in Italy later this month.
She took part in a Boxing Day dip last year, raising £450 for the spinal unit at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, to say thank you.
Mrs Crosby, who is also mother to Alex, 11, and Jack, nine, and married to project manager Glen, 45, has nominated Emily for a Pride of Hartlepool award.
"I'd never noticed it before -we'd been on holiday the year before and there was nothing wrong with her."Being a teenager, obviously she covers herself up and we didn't see her back.
"She has made a tremendous recovery and is an inspiration to her family and friends. She has so much determination."
This x-ray shows the severity of the curve in Emily's spine
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