Mother's sacrifice to give daughter 'a chance at life'

Janine and Ellie Gray. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A mother from South Tyneside is planning to forego medical treatment so that her daughter can 'have a chance at life' after they were both diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.

Janine and Ellie Gray from East Boldon have a type of Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes - which in their case weakens the joints in the body - and can lead to severe complications.

They were inspired to start their own fundraising to get life changing surgery after seeing the story of 27-year-old Melanie Hartshorn from Cramlington who we featured on ITV Tyne Tees two months ago.

Janine and Ellie Gray spend all day either on the sofa, or in bed.

There's no girly shopping trips or lunches, no walks on the beach or evenings at the cinema.

Ellie can't do anything really, she can't go out with friends, she can't get to school, she want to be able to finish her A-levels and get to university. We'd love to be able to see her do that, she's a bright girl, she's capable but just physically with the pain particularly in her head it's just impossible.

Janine Gray

Usually just television all day, it's really boring, mind numbing.

Ellie Gray

They both have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - a genetic condition that causes the dislocation and weakness of the body's joints.

It's left Ellie - a keen swimmer and horse rider - with constant dizziness and headaches caused by her skull and neck becoming unstable.

Her Mum has been forced into early retirement.

Dizziness, crippling fatigue it was just impossible to keep working so we spend our energy going to hospital appointments and that's pretty much all we manage.

Janine Gray

But there is hope. They saw the story of Melanie Hartshorn from Cramlington. I followed her to Barcelona in Spain where she had her neck and skull and lower spine fused together.

After years of lying down in bed, she was able to sit up for the first time.

Now Mel has met up with Janine and Ellie, who are now trying to raise the almost £90,000 that will be needed to pay for surgery.

If my story can help other people then that's really good and that's what I want.

Melanie Hartshorn

Both mother and daughter need the operation, but only Ellie will have it, for now.

Janine wants to be able to look after her daughter in recovery, before even considering further fundraising for her own surgery.

Just really amazing, we almost daren't hope for such a good outcome, but it's lovely to meet Mel.

Janine Gray

Seeing that Mel is so much better than she was just a few months ago, it gives me a little bit of hope.

Ellie Gray

For this mother and daughter there is a long road ahead.

But with Mel's story proving just how life changing surgery can be - they're determined not to give up - just as Mel didn't.