Simon Cowell has suggested that he’ll pay for Britain’s Got Talent contestant Julia Carlile’s spinal surgery – whether her dance troupe MerseyGirls win the show or not.
Julia, who is 15, has scoliosis – a curvature of the spine, which means she’ll soon need an operation that could mean she’ll never dance again.
In last night’s BGT semi-final, following Julia’s MerseyGirls performance, Simon told the group: “Whatever happens, we’ll make sure you’re in a great place.
“I don’t want to get too emotional, but, out of all the acts tonight, you and the Pensionalities are the ones who got me. You’re both uplifting and doing something positive.”
Julia, who needs £78k($100k) for the pioneering operation in the US, has been offered spinal fusion surgery on the NHS, but metal rods are used to fuse the vertebrae – which would leave her with very little flexibility.
— Julia / BGT GB 2017 (@juliacarlile_x) May 11, 2017
She told The Mirror that she discovered an operation in the US called vertebral body tethering, which uses screws along with a flexible cord attached to the spine – meaning she could bend.
“I knew we couldn’t afford it. My family has saved £4,000 but it’s £78,000, plus airfare,” she explained. “Since the audition, a consultant from America got in touch and offered to examine my X-rays for free.
“After two weeks in hospital, the surgery has a six-week recovery period, but the fusion surgery needs six months to a year. It would be such a big difference.”
Julia, who needs the surgery before the end of the year as her spine is crushing her lung, added: “I’m in a lot of pain every day. My ribs and hips touch, so some movements really hurt. Standing up for a long time is painful, and it’s bad in the mornings.
“I try not to complain, but I have to wear my back brace in bed and my friends are always nagging me to wear it in the day too.”
There’s now just one semi-final left before Britain’s Got Talent has all of its 2017 finalists, when one of them will be going home with the grand prize of £250,000 and the chance to perform at the Royal Variety Performance later this year.
Britain’s Got Talent continues tonight (June 2) at 7.30pm on ITV.
By Bea Mitchell