Tyne & Wear

Bedridden Melanie Hartshorn has £80k operation in Spain

Melanie Hartshorn receives her degree certificate at Newcastle University Image copyright Newcastle University
Image caption Miss Hartshorn's condition meant she had to lie down to take her finals exams

A disabled woman who collected her university degree on a stretcher has had a life-changing operation after well-wishers raised £100,000.

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

It is so severe the 27-year-old from Cramlington had to take her Newcastle University exams lying down.

Her mother Molly said three surgeons in Barcelona had operated for nine hours to fuse her skull to her spine.

'Extreme problems'

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

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

Sections of her daughter's ribs were used in the operation, Mrs Hartshorn said.

"She will be in a medically induced coma for at least 20 hours then they will try to wake her and see how she copes," she added.

There were no complications, severe bleeding or heart problems, which had been a concern, she said.

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

Mrs Hartshorn said doctors had told her "they have never seen anyone with such extreme problems".

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