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Evelina London surgeons help budding footballer

Posted on Tuesday 20th March 2018
Jovel Jackson-Davis playing football

Jovel Jackson-Davis on the football pitch and outside Evelina London.

A promising young footballer who injured his hip just before a trial with a premier league football club is back on the pitch thanks to specialist surgery at Evelina London.

Evelina London is the first children’s hospital in London and the South East of England to provide arthroscopic (keyhole) hip and knee surgery exclusively to under 16s.

Rising numbers of children and young people are suffering from knee and hip injuries due to the increasing popularity of competitive sports.

Jovel Jackson-Davis, 15 from Waterloo in London, was one of the first patients to benefit from the new service set up by consultant children's orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Michail Kokkinakis.

Jovel says: “When I hurt my hip, the timing couldn’t have been worse. I had just been spotted by a talent scout and offered a trial with a premier league club, and I was really worried this would ruin my chances. But Evelina London got me back on the pitch in record time. I had my operation in September and by January I was back training and free from pain.

“Mr Kokkinakis wrote a letter for me and my Dad to send to the club to explain how long it would probably take before I was fit enough to make the trial. Luckily they are happy to wait!”

Keyhole surgery is already a well-established procedure for adults, and is used to remove or repair damaged cartilage, torn ligaments and inflamed tissue around joints. Its use in children is developing rapidly in the UK, thanks to better understanding of children’s joint disorders, recent advances in adult keyhole surgery and specialist training of children’s orthopaedic surgeons.

The benefits to children are the same as in adults: the procedure is less invasive than traditional surgery, patients experience less pain and recovery is much faster.

Mr Michail Kokkinakis explains: “Thanks to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, we now have our own dedicated hip and knee arthroscopy equipment. Children can be referred, assessed and treated in a dedicated environment with patients their own age, and looked after by experienced clinicians who specialise in treating children.

“It has already begun to transform the way we manage cases of hip and knee injuries in children and adolescents to meet their unique needs. Children are still growing so it is vital to avoid problems with their growth in future.

“In the last year the number of referrals has trebled and 31 patients had keyhole hip or knee surgery at Evelina London in 2017 compared with only eight patients in 2016. Thanks to the new service, we are able to treat an increasing number of young patients to meet a growing demand for it.”

Keen tennis player Remel Alvares-Matthews, aged 17, had keyhole surgery for an injured knee at Evelina London last May, and was back playing tournaments after only a few short months. Remel, from Streatham in south-west London, says: “The whole experience was very easy, and the team took the time to explain everything that was happening, and to teach me how to use my crutches and practise knee exercises after I had had the operation. I recovered very quickly too. After a couple of months, I was able to ease back into tennis. It really does feel as if everything is back to normal now.”

Find out more about orthopaedic services at Evelina London.
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