1. ITV Report

Mel discharged from hospital 'as a new person'

A woman from Cramlington is preparing to head home after life changing spinal surgery.

27-year-old Melanie Hartshorn has had her neck and upper spine and her back and lower spine fused together after they were dangerously dislocating.

It meant for years she was unable to sit up or walk and was completely bed ridden.

Her operation was self funded and so far she has raised almost £160,000 to pay for it along with medical flights and the almost 2 months she has spent in Barcelona with her Mum Molly.

The operation was not available on the NHS.

Mel and her surgeons Dr.Gilete (left) and Dr.Oliver (right) Credit: Mel's Mission To Live/Facebook

ITV Tyne Tees recently went out to Barcelona to spend time with Melanie Hartshorn as she recovers from a major operation to fuse her neck and her spine together.

We first met Mel when she graduated from Newcastle University, collecting her degree on a stretcher.

She says her wish is that others are inspired by her story and that it provides hope for anyone else living with a serious condition or disability.

Without this operation she was at risk of death as her neck and spine were so unstable she was in danger of ‘internally decapitating’,suffering irreversible damage to he spinal cord.

She raised over £90,000 – mainly from fundraising events organised from her bedroom to pay for the procedure.

What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

There are different types of EDS. It's a genetic condition.

Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Fragile skin
  • Stretchy skin
  • Joint hypermobility including dislocations and chronic joint pain.
  • Easy bruising
  • Fragile and extensible tissue

I'm 3weeks post op from my big spinal fusion today!

Just been to for my last appointment with the amazing Neurosurgeons who saved & transformers my life, in the most incredible way.

I had all my stitches removed (over 50 of them! ?) & it's all healing nicely!

It's just a case of reconditioning my body and building muscle back, carefully and slowly over time!

I'm managing to sit for around an hour now before going dizzy from my POTS, that should improve over time and the cooler weather at home will help that too - as it's soooooo warm here! ?☀️

Since I can't sit long enough for the flight home we are getting an air ambulance home again, and will work on building up my sitting tolerance more once I'm home- I've not sat more than an hour for 5-6 years..... so my body will take some time to adapt to this new life ahead of me! ✈️

Now to book the flights home!! Can't wait to get home and see Katiya and the dog, missed them crazy amounts & looking forward to being able to have some fun! ??

Let the good times roll!

Thank you again to everyone who has supported me to get to this point, you're all amazing & the difference in me is incredible! ?

In the words of Dr Gilete and Dr Oliver, I'm "a new person"!

They said it's incredible seeing the transformation from the very, very poorly person I was 2month ago, unable to move or sit up without having dangerous seizures needing manual traction to literally pop my skull back into joint, to the person I am today- awake, alert, happy and able to sit and move my neck without a neckbrace on & not having seizures!


– Melanie Hartshorn speaking on her Facebook page