A 15-year-old girl has undergone an 11-hour operation to correct a shark's fin-like protrusion from her back.
Emily Crosby's spine curved at a 90 degree angle at the top, with a 50 degree twist in the opposite direction further down. When she bent over, the curvature caused a visible fin-like lump on her back.
When she was diagnosed at 13, her doctors said it was one of the worst cases of scoliosis they had ever seen.
Emily's problems were first noted when her dance teacher said she thought her back was misaligned.
Her mum Jackie, 45, from Seaten Carew, Cleveland, told the Sun of her shock when she was first told of Emily's condition.
"They had to pick me off the floor when they told me. It was awful," she said. "We thought the doctor was showing us an X-ray of the worst case scenario but it was actually my daughter's spine on the screen. We thought we were just going in for an initial check but the doctor had already booked the operation in."
If left untreated, Emily could have ended up with punctured lungs as her twisted spine crushed her ribs.
Jackie said she cried a lot after the diagnosis, particularly because she had not known anything was wrong with Emily, who she described as very fit and active and never in any pain.
She said the doctors told Emily to bend forward so her family could see the 'shark's fin' effect her twisted spine had in certain positions.
The family were warned that Emily's surgery carried the risk of paralysis if anything went wrong.
"It sounds awful to say, but one slip of the knife and she's paralysed. That's all it takes," Jackie said.
In the 11-hour operation, Emily had a titanium rod inserted into her back to straighten the bones. The surgery was so successful that just two weeks later Emily was able to do the splits and is now training as a dancer.
Jackie, who is also mum to Alex, 11, and Jack, nine, and married to project manager Glen, 45, said she was so proud of her brave daughter.
"Emily could have had physical, psychological and other problems but she has bounced back," she said.