LITTLE Katherine Henderson was left with a degenerative leg condition after surviving meningitis at the age of two.
But she is back on the sports field with her friends after undergoing intensive treatment under orthopaedic surgeon Stanley Jones.
And this week Katherine repaid Mr Jones for his skill and care by nominating him for the top accolade at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital annual awards.
Katherine, now 14, of Bolsover was taken ill in 2001 with a sudden high temperature. Her mum, Jill, recognised the signs of meningitis because she had previously been through the same nightmare with her son.
She rushed Katherine to the doctor and swift action led to an apparent full recovery.But six years later Jill noticed a pronounced curve in the shape of her daughter’s leg.
It emerged that meningitis had damaged the growth plate and over the next few years the condition became worse, causing pain as well as disability.
“I really wanted to be able to get around but my knee ached all the time and started swelling up,” recalls Katherine.
At the Children’s Hospital she underwent bone grafts to tackle the problem. But when the procedure could improve things no more, she was referred to Mr Jones, an orthopaedic specialist.
He broke her leg in two places and fitted a metal frame, with screws that had to be adjusted twice a day to gradually lengthen and straighten the limb.
The procedure was expected to take eight months, but they didn’t reckon on Katherine’s determination.
“Mr Jones was really friendly and we got on really well. He told me if I exercised it would be over sooner,” she said.
So Katherine refused to use her wheelchair, insisted on taking part in school PE lessons and even went the extra mile, using a treadmill at the gym.
Four months later the frame had done its work and Katherine’s leg was straight enough for her to resume her place in the school rounders and netball teams.
“I’m really grateful to Mr Jones. If it wasn’t for him I’d still be like I was two years ago,” she said.
And when she spotted the appeal on Twitter, she had no hesitation in nominating her surgeon for the Children’s Star Award, sponsored by the Sheffield Telegraph.
Receiving the accolade at this week’s awards ceremony, Mr Jones said: “I was thrilled… I have a great team working with me so I can’t take all the credit.
“I’d like to thank Katherine for her kind words – I think she deserves an award for being so brave and such a great patient.”
Trophies were presented by special guests, Paralympic silver medalist James Crisp, world champion paratriathlete Steven Judge and Trust chief executive Simon Morritt.
James said: “It was an honour to present awards to such amazing people, as a former patient of the hospital it was my way of saying thank you and giving something back.”
Other winners were: direct patient care - Emerald Lodge Nursing Team; non-clinical support service - Domestic Services; customer care - Margaret Martin; service improvement - Metabolic Bone Team; patient safety and quality - the Modern Matrons; Chairman’s Award - Ward M1 and Dr Nigel Humphreys.