A dance troupe from the UK may have had their dreams shattered when they failed to win Britain’s Got Talent – but one of the girls’ dreams was far, far bigger.
The teenager – who has scoliosis – touched Cowell’s heart when she performed on the talent show.
The dance group Just Us (renamed MerseyGirls) performed on Britain’s Got Talent was an emotional experience because this was the last time 15-year-old Julia Carlile may have been able to dance in her life. But it seems Simon Cowell has made good on his promise to fund her operations – and now the teenager is in recovery.
According to AWM:
When the camera stopped rolling, Simon approached the young dancer, who was just 15 years old with a life-changing proposition. Julia was desperate to win the prize money for a special reason – she needed surgery on her spine.
Although the causes of scoliosis are unknown, treatment is available. It is some type of abnormal growth of the spine, which can run in families. It varies by age but often becomes visible between the age of 10 and 15. If she won the money from Britain’s Got Talent, she would use it to straighten her spine.
Julia needed to travel from the UK to the United States for the surgery. And if it worked, which it promised, she would no longer have to deal with the curved spine and would still be able to dance. Treatment in the UK under the NHS would leave her spine too stiff for her to be a dancer.
If Julia did not get the surgery, the 100-degree curve in her spine would only get worse over time. It was getting to the point that it was so bad that the curve in her spine was putting pressure on Julia’s internal organs. It was also crushing one her lungs. The condition was getting so bad that Julia was struggling to breathe following her dance performances. But she pushed through and used an inhaler to make it work for her. Besides these life-threatening symptoms, she also suffered from immense pain in her lower back.
At the audition, Julia – who suffers from scoliosis – told the judges this would be her last chance to perform. She was due for surgery to correct the curvature of her spine, which could have left her unable to dance alongside her friends.
The dance troupe earned Alesha Dixon’s buzzer, with the BGT judge telling them: “When you’re passionate about something, I could not imagine not being able to do that again. I really couldn’t. And that’s why we all live for the things that we love to do, it really touched me.”
But in an effort to save Julia’s dance career, her friends were determined to raise the money for alternative treatment – and in the final Cowell stepped forward to offer financial help, saying: “Whatever happens, we’ll make sure you’re all right.”
She revealed to the Liverpool paper, The Echo, that Simon himself had offered to cover her medical costs for her surgery. She told the paper that Simon had approached her backstage during the show’s finale and told her he would cover the £175,000 bill for her surgery (roughly $220,000).
But her surgery wasn’t going to be performed through NHS and she wasn’t going to receive fused rods to her spine. Julia opted for a medical procedure only offered in the United States called vertebral body tethering, which involves the placement of screws, not rods, along her spinal cord. The procedure has a six-week recovery time and is reversible. Furthermore, it won’t limit Carlile’s body movements as severely, allowing her to continue to dance.
Julia has now had two successful operations in the United States. In the meantime, Julia is expected to make a full recovery. That’s as good a reason as any to dance.
MerseyGirls came ninth in the final of BGT 2017.