A NORTHUNBERLAND woman has undergone life saving surgery in Barcelona after arriving in Spain amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Melanie Hartshorn from Cramlington, Northumberland arrived in Barcelona on January 29 to undergo surgery for a rare condition that has left her unable to stand or sit for any years.
Hartshorn has Ehlers Danlos Syndrone (EDS), a rare condition that weakens the connective tissue in her spine and neck, leaving her unable to support her own weight when sat upright.
The condition also causes pressure on her spinal chord, causing blackouts, fits, nausea and constant pain.
It has also left her bed bound for the majority of her life.
Hartshorn was taken into theater on Tuesday at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau for a 12 hour operation to help reinforce her neck and spine after a major setback in her recovery last year.
During summer last year, Hartshown suffered a severe asthma attack, causing a thoratic spine pushing between two previous fusions.
Her condition worsened following the attack, with her skull slipping constantly, cutting off blood to her head and putting pressure on her brain.
This caused seizures, vomiting, excruciating pain, tachycardia, palpitations, trouble breathing, episodes of unconsciousness and paralysis.
Hartshorn has undergone four surgeries in Barcelona since 2017 to help support her spine, with the latest hoping to put her on the road to recovery once again.
During her latest stay in Barcelona, doctors are fusing her spine from skull to pelvis to enable her to hopefully start living a normal life again.
She was flown to Barcelona on a medical flight with an ICU team and was fitted with a supportive Halo on her arrival to help support her head while she waited for the surgery.
“Well, I made it here in one piece… white as a sheet, in a lot of pain and spent the majority of the time pulling my skull to keep it in place…. but I’m here.” said Hartshorn on her Facebook page.
12 hours later, Hartshorn’s carer took to her page to tell everyone that the surgery was a success.
“They got it under control fast and now she should be able to eat and sleep without constant seizures and skull subluxations.”
Her family have set up a fund raising page on Facebook to help raise money to pay for her treatment which is estimated to total over 50,000.
To donate or help share Melanie’s cause, you can find her page here.