A Blackpool schoolgirl has spoken of how she grew up with a condition commonly associated with older people.
Carmen Jones was born 11 weeks premature, weighing just 2lbs 14oz, and at eight-years-old was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
The condition meant she spent two years under the constant care of Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital.
Carmen, 15, a prefect at Highfield Humanities College in South Shore, said: “When I was about eight I started to get a problem in my right hip, it was very painful.
“I had to go through a long period of tests, physiotherapy and steroid injections.”
Carmen was also fitted with a plaster cast which she had to wear at night over both legs with a metal bar between to try to stabilise her joints.
Her mother, Erica Jones, said: “I thought it was growing pains at first, but one day she was in agony and I noticed one leg seemed longer than the other. I was very worried about her.”
But with the help from doctors and nurses at both hospitals Carmen, who is from South Shore, is well on the road to recovery and is keen to give back to the people who cared for her.
She said: “Now I am able to run, walk, swim, whatever I want with my leg and I can look forward to a future where I can get where I want to be in life.
“I couldn’t have done this without the doctors and nurses, so I want to say thank you by volunteering in the hospital.”
As volunteers have to be 16 before they can work in the hospital, Carmen is to be offered the opportunity to join Victoria’s Voice, a monthly youth forum set up by the hospital for youngsters to discuss experiences and work with the Women and Children’s Unit on projects around children’s services.
Erica said she was delighted at the progress Carmen had made.
She added: “I am a lot happier about her future prospects.”
Dr Nigel Laycock, consultant paediatrician at the Vic said: “Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis affects the joints of children and is particularly prevalent in girls. It affects their mobility and we try to encourage as much normal activity as possible and this is what Carmen has done.
“We are delighted she has made such improvement and it’s great to hear that she wants to give something back to the hospital.”