A Newcastle University student living with a rare disease has become the first in her family to get a university degree - despite having to attend the graduation ceremony on a stretcher.

Melanie Hartshorn, 26, suffers from a rare disease which has left her bedbound and in constant pain.

She has Ehlers-Danios Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes her joints to dislocate.

She struggles to sit up without triggering a seizure and she was a severe case of Cranio-Cervical Instability, which is causing her skull to sink into her spine.

This means she spends almost all of her time lying on her stomach.

Despite this, Melanie managed to complete a BSc Hons in Biology – completing the final year of her degree from home.

This brilliant day means so much to me and I want to thank everyone who is supporting me.

Melanie Hartshorn
Now a graduate. Melanie is all smiles of getting her certificate. Credit: Newcastle University

Melanie lives in Cramlington, Northumberland, where her mother is her sole carer.

She is currently raising money to go to the States for pioneering brain and spinal surgery.