'The final hurdle': Northumberland woman awaiting crucial surgery has high hopes for 2023

A Northumberland woman who has spent Christmas in Spain preparing for further potentially life-saving surgery says she is at the "final hurdle" of her journey.

Melanie Hartshorn, who has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, underwent a procedure in Barcelona earlier this year to fuse her neck and spine together.

While she has now been discharged from hospital, she is now awaiting further surgery in the New Year, meaning she and her mother Molly have remained in Spain across the Christmas period.

Mel, from Cramlington, remains hopeful that this procedure will give her the chance to do the things she has missed so dearly once again.

She said: "I'm out of the halo, I'm breathing, I'm not having all the seizures which is absolutely brilliant.

"We're nearly there. There's just that last hurdle, the last bit to get done but on the other hand you look back and you think, the whole year and I didn't get any of the goals and things that I wanted to achieve done.

"Hopefully, next year will be the one, if I get this operation at the beginning of the year, I've got the whole year to get strong and start working towards doing all the things I want to do."

The cost of the surgery has been covered through extensive fundraising, with the latest procedure only able to go ahead when a benefactor donated £17,000 at the eleventh hour.

In total, more than £100,000 has been raised to fund the treatments.

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