HAMPSHIRE mother, Leah Boxall can finally hug her daughter for the first time in six years without it causing her excruciating pain.

As previously reported, the mother from Hedge End suffers from a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which meant her skull was crushing her neck.

“It was so emotional, we have always been so close but we were never able to have a cuddle because it was so painful.

“All of the nerves in my body were hyper-sensitive before. Since the surgery we have been able to sit on the sofa and hug for hours.”

Following the article published by the Echo in November, Leah raised more than £60,000 for life-changing surgery in Barcelona that was not available on the NHS.

Caitlyn, who studies at Wildern Secondary School in Hedge End, has been her mother’s primary carer for the last six years.

The teenager cooked, cleaned and even bathed her mother.

“Caitlyn has a different look on her face now, she knows things are going to change for the better. Before the surgery I was bed-bound; I wasn’t able to do anything with her and we could only watch films. But now, even if I am in a wheelchair, we will be able to leave the house and make new memories.”

Leah says the last three years have been increasingly difficult due to her deteriorating health.

“The surgery has relieved the pressure on my brain. There are so many risks to the brain stem cells being crushed. I was scared that I could die in my sleep, but now all of these worries have been alleviated,” said Leah.

The six-hour surgery fused her neck together, stopping further damage. However, Leah has lost mobility in her neck.

Leah claims that when the surgeon operated on her neck, the condition of her bones was worse than they expected, with many of them black and crumbling away.

“I can now sit up without a brace, it is a horrible thing to wear, especially when it is hot. I only have to wear it now if I am going on bumpy ground or in the car,” she said.

Leah is still in Barcelona having cardio and physiotherapy as well as further tests but Caitlyn has returned to school.

“She really didn’t want to leave me. There was a bed in my hospital room and she stayed with me for eight days to make sure I was okay.”

The mother-of-one now faces a new challenge of raising a further £20,000 for back surgery.

“The back surgery will relieve the pain on my lower back. Currently the discs are crushing the nerves, which is causing me a lot of pain. The surgery will be very similar to the operation I had on my neck.”

Leah will return to the UK on July 7 when she will restart her efforts to raise money for her surgery alongside her family and friends.

“Doctor Gilete and all of the staff at Hospital Teknon have changed my life, they are brilliant.

“It is hard to find the words to describe how it feels, when I was waiting for the surgery, I was so scared that I could die before the operation. Now I don’t have to worry that my child isn’t going to have a parent. Even If I have to be in a wheelchair, I don’t have to worry about her not having a mum now,” said the single mother.

To donate visit: gofundme.com/Leahs-surgery-fund