Disabled Woman Who Spent Her Life Lying Down Takes First Steps After Groundbreaking Surgery

Melanie Hartshorn, from Northumberland, UK, spent much of her life lying down to prevent her skull from separating from her spine. The 34-year-old has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which has forced her into a life with a halo brace 24/7 to keep her in a fixed position and prevent seizures that risked her being internally decapitated. Just weeks from death, she became the first patient in the world to undergo surgery to have her neck and spine fused together, which was her only chance of survival. She spent months in the hospital in Barcelona, Spain, and underwent a second operation before flying home to the UK. Now, just over a year later, Melanie has taken her first steps and hopes in time she will be able to live a normal life. Her doctors are very pleased with how things have gone up to this point, because they really didn’t know if it was going to work. Melanie can now sit in a chair for up to 4 hours at a time, is able to feed herself for the first time in years, and has regular injections to help her bones become stronger. Standing unaided for the first time marks a pivotal moment for Melanie, who feared she would spend the rest of her life on her back. Recovering at home with her mother, Melanie said she’s been given a second chance and she’s going to seize it and make the most of it.