A GIRL from County Durham is hoping to become one of the first children from the UK to undergo a pioneering treatment after her mother heard about it on Britain’s Got Talent.

Twelve-year-old Lauren Rennie, from Ushaw Moor, near Durham, was a baby when she started developing scoliosis, which means her spine has an abnormal curvature.

Her parents Joanne, who works with children in care, and Stuart, a joiner, are trying to raise £20,000 so they can travel with her to the US for a type of treatment currently unavailable in the UK.

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Her parents hope the treatment, known as vertical body tethering, would mean Lauren, who spent almost four years of her life in a plaster body cast to try and correct her spine, would be able to continue taking part in sport.

The alternative is an operation known as spinal fusion, which they fear would worsen her quality of life.

Mrs Rennie, 36, said: “If she has the operation here, she’s looking at having metal rods in her spine and that would limit her quite a lot.

“She’s very sporty and she wouldn’t be able to do anything for a year and she might not ever get back to it. I don’t want to take that away from her because she’s spent enough of her life being strapped up.

“I heard about vertical tethering on Britain’s Got Talent because Simon Cowell paid for one of the girls to have the operation and I started researching it. We’ve sent all her medical records over and we’re waiting for a decision from them.

“It’s a lot less invasive and it would give her a much better quality of life.”

Lauren was diagnosed with scoliosis when she about one and was first put in a plaster body cast aged 14 months.

She wore the cast, which was changed every three months, for around four years, when she was given a removable plastic one to enable her to live a more normal life.

While none of her organs are currently affected, Lauren will need surgery because of the risk of her lung being deflated as a result of pressure from the spine, which has a 54 degree curve.

The Durham Johnston school pupil, who plays netball, basketball and does trampolining, is also having increasing problems with pain in her back and chest.

She said: “It can be painful when I’m growing. Sometimes I have to sleep on the floor because I can’t get comfortable in bed.”

“I’d rather have the surgery in America because I think I’ll be able to get back to sport and school a lot quicker and it would be much easier.”

Lauren’s medical records have been sent to the Shriners Hospital, a children’s orthopaedic facility in Philadelphia, and the family expects to find out by the end of the year whether she qualifies for the treatment.

Mrs Rennie said: “It’s hard to fundraise when we don’t know for sure but if they say yes she has to go at once and we don’t have that kind of money.

“The support from the community has been incredible.”

If she is not eligible, her family says any money donated will go to the British Scoliosis Society.

Around £3,000 was raised at a zumbathon, held in Bearpark on Sunday, while Brandon Boxing Club has also held fundraising events.