A 12-year-old elite ballet and tap dancer has been forced to give up training after being diagnosed with a rare disease – affecting only one in 10,000 children.
Mia Oldroyd, who still hopes to turn professional one day, now walks on crutches after doctors diagnosed her with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease last year.
The disease, also known as Perthes disease, causes blood loss in the joints around the hip, which means the bones soften and then break down.
And although not much is known about this exceptionally rare disease, studies have shown that it is more common in girls under the age of ten.
Mia, from Ribble Valley, has been dancing since the age of four and is part of an elite team – practicing more than 11 types of dance, including jazz, acro and contemporary dance.
So when her mother, Amanda, found out about her shocking diagnosis, she began to search desperately for treatments that might allow her to pursue her chosen career.
She said: “Mia wants to be a professional dancer so I knew we had to get her the right care.
“I watched lectures and read a lot of articles to try to figure out what treatment she would need.
Treatment for Perthes disease depends on the severity of the disease and may include physiotherapy, crutches, or casts.
However, due to Mia’s relative old age, Amanda learned that she would need surgery, where a metal frame – or external fixator – would be fitted to her hip and leg for four months.
This would then relieve the pressure on his joints.
Amanda said she initially considered taking Mia to Portugal for the procedure, but then found a surgeon closer to home who could offer a very specific surgery.
She said: “At first I thought we should see a doctor I found in Portugal for the operation until I asked a question in a Perthes disease group on Facebook.
“I asked if anyone had had an external fixator fitted in England and another parent responded by recommending Mr James Fernandes, consultant orthopedic surgeon at Sheffield Children’s.”
She later discovered that Mr Fernandes specialized in limb reconstruction at Sheffield Children’s and was part of our world-class pediatric limb reconstruction service.
And in November, Mia came to Sheffield Children’s Hospital to prepare for surgery the following month.
Amanda said, “Everyone came to see us; it was so organized. After the operation, we stayed in ward two for six days.
“The staff at Sheffield Children’s couldn’t do enough and we felt like all the pressure and weight had been taken away.
“Even afterwards, I know I can call them if I have something to worry about. Nothing is too difficult for them.”
Since then, Mia has been recovering from her surgery, coming to the hospital for checkups, doing daily physiotherapy exercises, and using crutches and a wheelchair to help her get around.
And with huge support from her teachers and fellow dancers at the McLaren Dance Company, Mia even returned to the studio to adapt dance routines.
But at the moment, she can only use the upper half of her body when sitting in a chair.
Mia is due to have a second operation this week to remove the metal frame around her leg and hip, after which the healing process can take up to two years.
Amanda said: “A lot of people reject Mia’s dancing and don’t understand that it can be a career.
“But Mr. Fernandes understood us and listened to us – we showed him videos of Mia dancing and he showed us clips of people dancing in India after similar treatment.”