Finsbury tumour girl to undergo risky Valentine’s Day operations

A NINE-YEAR-OLD Islington girl is facing two extremely risky operations to her spine on Valentine’s Day - as long as she recovers from a bout of flu in time.

Little Jessica Mangus from Golden Lane, Clerkenwell, will undergo surgery at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital on Monday for a cancerous tumour that has been wrapped round and inside her spine for more than half her life.

Two weeks ago, she began limping and losing sensation in her right thigh - and scans revealed the tumour was growing and must be operated on immediately.

Jessica’s mother, Stana Magnusova, said: “It is absolutely heartbreaking for me as Jessica’s mother to see her struggling to walk, dress herself, run - something she never had problems with.

“We asked the risks and he is giving us 30 to 40 per cent risk of her getting paralysed.

“Obviously I’m anxious about the surgery, but we don’t have a choice. I can’t think about alternatives and feel positive that the surgery will go well.”

Jessica’s story was first covered in the Gazette in 2008, after which her tumour stabilised. But her cancer is very rare and aggressive, and the tumour is now pushing on her spine.

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One of the operations on Monday will remove some of the tumour inside the spine to help her to be able to walk again.

At the moment, Jessica has to give up all her swimming, table tennis and drama school and can only walk very slowly with a limp.

A previous operation Jessica had led to curvature of the spine, so on Monday she will also have metal rods inserted into her spine to stabilise this.

She will need to have an operation every six months from now on, for the rods to be lengthened as she grows.

Ms Magnusova said: “She is usually a very happy girl, but they put her on steroids to relieve pressure on the cord. The steroids are such a high dose that she feels low and depressed.”

Last time she had an operation, she spent four weeks at in-patient physiotherapy at Scoliosis SOS, in Aldgate, the cost of which was paid for by fundraising.

It is unknown how the operation will affect Jessica and how long it will take to recover, but it is unlikely she will return to school for at least three months.

Ms Magnusova said: “She feels OK about it and knows she needs to have it done, because of the limping. She understands everything and she’s also quite happy to be off school!”

- If you want to make a donation to Jessica’s recovery visit