Tyne & Wear

Bedridden Melanie Hartshorn sits up for 'first time'

Melanie Hartshorn Image copyright Melanie Hartshorn
Image caption Melanie Hartshorn flew to Barcelona for the operation after well-wishers raised £100,000

A disabled woman who collected her university degree on a stretcher has sat up for the first time in years thanks to a life-changing operation.

Melanie Hartshorn has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which causes her skull to sink into her spine.

After well-wishers raised £100,000, surgeons in Barcelona operated for nine hours to fuse her skull to her spine.

The 27-year-old posted a picture of herself sitting up in a wheelchair on her Facebook page on Monday.

Image copyright Melanie Hartshorn
Image caption The operation involved fixing her cranium to her vertebrae to allow her to sit up

Miss Hartshorn, from Cramlington, Northumberland, wrote on Facebook: "So this happened tonight... and with no seizures!"

She added: "I was terrified, it was like running a marathon... but it was 100% worth it!!"

The surgery cost £80,000 and £20,000 was also raised to pay for the air ambulance flight to Spain.

It involved fixing her cranium to her vertebrae to allow her to sit up and prevent brain damage.

'Extreme problems'

Miss Hartshorn's condition is degenerative and she has needed multiple operations because her joints dislocate and cannot hold her body together.

It is so severe she had to take her Newcastle University exams lying down.

Her mother Molly Hartshorn said doctors told her "they have never seen anyone with such extreme problems".

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