'I've tried too hard to give up now': Northumberland woman fighting on for a chance of a normal life

Mel Hartshorn suffered complications following her latest operation which was paid for by fundraisers, but she is now vowing to fight on as she faces another procedure. Credit: Melanie Hartshorn/Facebook

A Northumberland woman will have to spend Christmas in Spain as she continues to recover from a life-changing operation.

Melanie Hartshorn, from Cramlington, still needs further surgery after undergoing the first part of the surgery in October.

Ms Hartshorn, who has a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, needed to have the surgery because joints inserted to fuse her neck and spine have become dangerously unstable, causing seizures, vomiting and pain.

The 33-year-old told ITV Tyne Tees that thank you will never be enough to those who donated to help her raise £90,000 to enable her to travel to Spain for the treatment, which is not available on the NHS.

She said: "Things are much more positive than they were and it has been a big success.

"It doesn't seem enough to just say thank you. I'm so grateful. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for all those people."

Prior to the operation, which took place in Barcelona in October, Ms Hartshorn had been wearing a medical halo to support her neck and spine for 18 months.

She has been travelling to the city for the past five years for operations to help stabilise and fuse her neck and spine.

Due to complications, she was unable to sit up and it is believed she was the longest surviving person in the world to be wearing a medical halo.

She had sought advice from doctors in India and America and Dr Gilete, a surgeon at the Teknon Hospital in Barcelona, agreed to carry out the most recent surgery.

Her case was discussed by the hospital ethics committee in Barcelona before being given the go ahead.

The latest procedure involved operating through her mouth, but medical staff decided she was not able to endure further hours in surgery, and so she faces another operation in the future.

She has since been told she will have to stay in Spain for Christmas due to further complications and a need for antibiotics - with the second half of the major operation due to take place in the New Year.

"I've tried too hard and gone through too much to give up now," she added.

She is continuing to fundraise, with dreams for the future of enjoying trips to the cinema, continuing her teacher training and taking the family dog out for a walk in her wheelchair.

Watch Amy's special report from Barcelona

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