Jonny Blair reports
A woman from Cramlington has taken another step towards the life she has always dreamed of, as she returned home from Spain following life-saving treatment.
Melanie Hartshorn can now sit upright and has regained movement in her arms and legs after undergoing an operation in Spain to re-stabilise her neck and spine together.
Melanie has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which causes weakness and hyper mobility in the joints. Complications from the condition mean that for years, she has had to endure seizures, nausea, dizziness and pain.
Mel returned to home soil for the first time in six months and is already feeling positive.
"It's amazing," she said. "The difference is just incredible. Obviously I'm still recovering, it's quite early days and it takes up to a year for everything to fuse properly.
"The halo's gone. It was absolute torture having it screwed into my head 24 hours a day. I couldn't sit up, I can obviously sit up now so I can do things again. The paralysis in my arm and my legs has gone, so I can move again. It's just incredible.
"It's like night and day. It's totally different to how it was. I look back on it now and I think, 'how did I manage being in bed, in the dark, in a halo?'"
The operation was paid for thanks to tireless fundraising from Melanie's family - including her mother Molly.
"People are so kind. A lot of people have never met Melanie but they follow her story and they donate. It's hard times for people but they know that we couldn't do it ourselves. They help out massively. We can't thank them enough."
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