Cramlington woman faces fourth trip to Spain for emergency spinal surgery

A woman from Cramlington is hoping that a fourth emergency operation in Spain might hold the key to giving her back her life.

Melanie Hartshorn has a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. ITV News Tyne has followed her journey for several years.

Reporter Amy Lea travelled to Barcelona with Melanie and her mum in 2017, when she underwent pioneering surgery to stabilise her skull and spine.

Now Melanie faces travelling back to Spain for the fourth time. Her situation is so serious she's been given special permission to fly. 

She will have to take a private COVID test with a team of doctors on a medical flight to once again face life changing surgery.

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a genetic condition that affects Mel's connective tissues such as her as tendons and ligaments.

A complication means her skull and spine became unstable - causing seizures, vomiting and pain.

While Amy Lea was chatting to Mel she has a seizure and her carer, who stays by her side all day, has to manually re-stablise her neck.

Mel given her permission for the footage to be used in this report.

Mel had her first operation in 2017. In 2019 she returned to Spain after complications following a knee operation meant her symptoms returned.

In early 2020 still experiencing symptoms - she returned once more - this time to fix broken screws in her neck.

Now an asthma attack last year has destabilised the neck and spine again. Having spent months feeling well - it's a devastating setback.

Melanie needs to raise £50,000 to pay for the latest operation. Mel and her Mum will travel regardless - they say it's simply too serious not to.