Simon Cowell pays for $270,000 surgery for Britain's Got Talent teenager
A teenage contestant on Britain's Got Talent will have life-changing surgery - and Simon Cowell is footing the bill.
Julia Carlile, 15, made it to the finals of the show earlier this year with her dance troupe MerseyGirls.
Carlile, from West Kirby near Liverpool, UK, has scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that causes severe pain and discomfort.
She told the Liverpool Echo that Cowell approached her backstage after her group's performance and offered to pay for 150,000 pound (NZ$268,000) surgery on her back.
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In her first audition, Carlile told the judges the show was her last chance at being a dancer before needing an operation that would leave her unable to perform again.
According to the Echo, her best hope is a procedure in the USA called vertebral body tethering where screws are fixed along a cord inside her back.
Carlile said Cowell approached the group after their final dance.
"Simon came and spoke to us back stage. Just walking off stage and he said he was paying for it and I couldn't believe it," she said.
Carlile and her family flew to New York on Sunday (local time) and will continue to New Jersey, where the operation will take place.
If the procedure is successful, it should allow Carlile to continue dancing - unlike state-funded surgical remedies which could have left her unable to move.
"I'm beyond happy and it means we can carry on dancing together for the rest of our lives," Carlile said.
"He didn't have to do it and he has changed my life. There are no word to thank him for how grateful we are. It's just unbelievable. It does not feel real."