'He's on the road to a normal life' - Heartwarming news as a Hartlepool teenager fights back from surgery

A Hartlepool teenager is fighting back to health just five weeks after having a £10,000 operation to stop his chest being crushed.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 4:45 am

Joshua Readman, 17, is already showing great progress after the surgery in which a metal bar was inserted into his chest which was caving inward.

And if his progress continues, he could be playing sport again with another week. Joshua may be able to live a fully normal life by October, said his family.

His delighted mum, Natasha Johnston, 38, said: “He had lived with this from when he was 13 until he was 17 and he could not walk far without being wiped out.

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Joshua Readman and his mum Natasha Johnston.

"Now he can do it and still have energy left.”

It’s a slow road ahead but hopes are high that Joshua can do ‘any sport he wants within three months’.

He is one week away from being allowed to start non-contact sport and Natasha added: “He has got the world ahead of him now.”

Joshua has Pectus Excavatum, which is estimated to affect one in every 300-400 births.

Joshua Readman who is fighting back after a £10,000 operation.

He has lived with the effects of since he was 13 and it has worsened since then.

Natasha added: “That was the initial pressure being released from his heart and he is getting used to it now.

"Now, it’s a case of building him up slowly but hopefully he is on the road to a normal life.”

Joshua Readman next to a scan which shows the effect his condition was having on his heart before his operation.

Joshua, a Hartlepool College of Further Education student, had the operation at the Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital, where he stayed for a week.

Dozens of people backed a Go Fund Me appeal and others held events across Hartlepool to push the total beyond that all-important mark.

The curved metal bar would remain in him for three to five years and would eventually be taken out.

Joshua with his mum Natasha.

When it is, Joshua’s chest will hopefully have properly formed and his heart can operate at between 90 and 95 per cent normal function.

A message as part of the online Go Fund Me appeal for Joshua said: “This surgery was removed off the NHS funding list in February 2019 because they classed the procedure as cosmetic.”

But dozens of people made donations and others held fundraising events across town to help ensure the operation would happen.

Joshua has been a volunteer at Poolie Time Exchange (PTE) for 18 months and PTE backed his fundraising drive.

Others have helped too. The Sandy car park at Seaton Carew hosted a fundraising event in June and Phoenix Kickboxing, in Hartlepool, also gave its support as well as many people who gave individual donations.

Natasha said today: “Five weeks on, the pain has gone and he is sleeping well. He would not be in the position he is in how if it were not for the generosity of the people who helped.”

A scan showing how Joshua's chest wall was pressing on his heart before his operation.

Hopes are high that Joshua will make a total recovery by October.

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