Woman to have life-saving operation after benefactor offers £17,000 on day before deadline

Melanie Hartshorn has travelled to Spain to undergo a potentially life-saving operation. Credit: Family

A Northumberland woman is due to have a potentially life-saving operation after a benefactor came to her rescue by giving £17,000 to help pay for it.

Melanie Hartshorn has been trying to raise £100,000 so she can undergo an operation to fuse her neck and spine together.

She is due to have the surgery tomorrow, on Friday 7 October after someone came forward to offer to make up the difference between the total cost of the procedure and what she had raised to date.

The Cramlington woman has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which means her joints are hyper flexible and unstable, and a rare complication means her neck and spine “disconnect”, causing fitting, seizures, vomiting and dizziness.

She has been wearing a surgical halo and vest for more than 17 months and it is thought she is the only person in the world to have survived this long using one. They are usually worn for a months or weeks at a time.

She has been trying to raise £100,000 for the treatment in Spain, which is not available on the NHS.

Last month, ITV Tyne Tees covered her last-ditch efforts to raise the remaining funds as time ran out before her scheduled surgery date.

Following that report, a benefactor has come forward to offer her a £17,000 loan to ensure the operation goes ahead.

However, she still needs to raise the money so she can pay them back.

Ms Hartshorn, who is having the operation on Friday 7 October, said: “A very kind person who saw my TV news report the other week has offered me a loan as a last resort to ensure the surgery goes ahead.

“This is such a relief as the halo is so broken and I desperately need the surgery tomorrow.”

She added: “To the person offering this loan, thank you simply isn’t enough!”

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.

A broken screw in the fusion has meant she has been wearing the halo 24/7 and spends almost all of her time lying down.

Melanie Hartshorn has been wearing a surgical vest and halo for more than 17 months. Credit: Family

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.

In a post on her Facebook page – named Mel’s Mission to Live – she said: “Nerves are starting to hit properly now, but I’m just so relieved to be here and able to have my surgery, to save my life.”

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