The Null Device

The price of dreams: English schoolgirl Emma Richards, 16, has undergone an expensive and painful operation in order to become taller, and realise her dream of being an air hostess. Emma stopped growing at 4ft 9ins, whereas the minimum height for hostesses is 5ft 3ins, for reasons of safety. The details of the operation will sound familiar to anyone who has seen Gattaca:

Emma underwent a six-hour operation in January which involved breaking each femur in two places. Six five inch pins were then screwed into each bone and attached to a metal frame. Over the next four months, Emma was bedridden while the screws were turned four times a day to draw the broken bones away from each other.

Since then Emma has suffered fractures in her weakened bones, as well as infections. Adding insult to injury, the operation only added five inches to her height, and she is still literally one inch short of the minimum requirements.

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