Northumberland woman Mel Hartshorn 'has her life back' after major surgery in Spain

Mel without halo_MelaniesMissionToLive_Facebook_November2022
Mel has had life saving surgery in Barcelona and is pictured with Dr Gilete who carried out the procedure. Credit: Melanie's Mission To Live/Facebook

A Northumberland woman has said she "has her life back" after spending more than a month in intensive care following life-changing surgery.

Melanie Hartshorn, from Cramlington, in Northumberland, said she would never be able to thank people enough after they helped raise the money she needed to undergo the operation in Spain.

Ms Hartshorn, who has the condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, has spent four-and-a-half weeks in intensive care following the surgery but has now been able to sit up, which was a struggle before the surgery, and eat.

In a social media post to her supporters, she said: "This is the nightmare I’ve been secretly battling alone for 18 months, trying to find help, and now I can finally see the way.

"The solution, the answer - we are almost there. The most risky part is complete and just the last part remains - and I get my life back! I get to be Mel again and achieve my dreams at long last."

Ms Hartshorn has been desperately fundraising for surgery to stabilise her neck and spine.

She had previously had the joints fixed - also during a privately funded operation in Spain - but with a screw and join broken, she was left with symptoms that left her bed-bound.

Mel had to travel to Spain for the operation to save her life Credit: Melanie Hartshorn

Unable to sit up, she was wearing a surgical "halo" 24/7 for over 18 months which had broken - believed to be the longest time in the world anyone has survived wearing one of the devices.

Ms Hartshorn was suffering severe seizures, pain and vomiting and was unable to sit up - and she was told without surgery her life was in danger.

She raised more than £80,000 for the £100,000 procedure, which is not available on the NHS - but still needs more funds to cover another planned procedure and also on-going care costs in Spain.

A donor came forward to offer to loan Ms Hartshorn and her family £17,000 after seeing the story on ITV Tyne Tees to make up the funding shortfall.

Ms Hartshorn spent more than four weeks in intensive care but it has been deemed a success, she said.

She said she has been able to sit up, remove the halo and eat porridge - something that was not possible before the operation.

Ms Hartshorn is staying in Spain for on-going care and a recovery period before returning to the UK.

Initially, it had been planned the operation should take place as one procedure. However, on the advice of medical experts it was decided it should be split between two surgeries as her body was not thought to be strong enough to do it in one go.

It means she is still trying to raise more money to fund the second operation.

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