Newcastle University student collects degree on stretcher
A student who is confined to bed with a rare condition that causes all her joints to dislocate has collected her university degree on a stretcher.
Melanie Hartshorn, 26, from Cramlington, Northumberland, has a rare form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which affects her connective tissue.
As a result she did the final year of her Newcastle University biology degree at home and took her exams lying down.
But she collected her certificate in front of cheering friends on Tuesday.
She said: "This brilliant day means so much to me and I want to thank everyone who has supported me.
"As my condition worsened, I needed multiple operations which prevented me from graduating with my colleagues. It also meant I had to sit my exams on a stretcher and to work on assignments from home.
"Everyone has been amazing and made my time here enjoyable and reaching my goal to graduate achievable, despite the extreme medical obstacles I have had to tackle."
She also revealed she had launched an appeal to raise £150,000 which she needs for treatment, as her skull has started to sink into her spine.
Ms Hartshorn's mother and sole carer, Molly, said: "Melanie's graduation means a lot us. She didn't give up even after she lost her ability to write and read, having to work on her assignments from memory.
"She's been through so much, yet she managed to become the first in the family to graduate. I'm really proud of her."
Ms Hartshorn received her degree certificate from the university's pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Prof Chris Day.