'This is my only chance': A Northumberland woman's desperate race to raise £100,000 for surgery

Mel Hartshorn fears she will not survive much longer wearing her halo and needs a major operation to give her a chance of a better quality of life. Credit: Melanie's Mission to Live/ Facebook

A Northumberland woman is in a race against time to raise £100,000 for a life-saving operation.

Melanie Hartshorn, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) - a genetic condition that causes her joints to be 'hyper flexible' and unstable, fears she cannot survive for much longer living in a surgical halo which is keeping her neck and spine stable.

A rare complication means her neck and spine "disconnect", causing fitting, seizures, vomiting and dizziness.

Her mum Molly is her full-time carer and said she is worried her daughter might not be here in "six months or a year" without the surgery. She says the stress is causing sleepless nights.

It is believed the Cramlington woman is currently the only person in the world who has survived this long wearing a surgical halo and vest. They are usually only worn for a few months or weeks at a time following injury or surgery - Ms Hartshorn has been wearing hers for 17 months.

She is facing a desperate race against time to raise £100,000 to pay for more life saving surgery - booked for the first week in October.

She has already travelled to Barcelona in Spain several times for procedures which are not available on the NHS, to fuse her neck and spine together.

Now, a screw has broken in the fusion, meaning she has to wear the halo 24/7 and spend almost all of her time lying down.

She has been told she only has one surgical option to try and stabilise her neck and spine. The risky procedure, which has a long recovery period, involves a surgeon going through her mouth and throat to access the area that needs repairing.

Without the surgery it is unknown how long Ms Hartshorn can survive - and it is thought this could be her last chance at an operation that could offer her a better quality of life.

Mel has been using a medical halo for several years on and off - but now wears it 24/7 Credit: Melanie Hartshorn

If she is unable to raise the money needed she will have to cancel the operation.

She said: "People don't realise that the Halo is literally keeping me alive and it's broken - it's got table ties holding it together again and the screws are going further and further into the skull when we tighten it every week and it's not going to last much longer - I really need the surgery."

We've followed her's story since she first had major surgery in Barcelona in 2017.

You can find out more about the condition here.

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