A bright college student at the University of Houston, Claudia Martinez has always dreamed of helping people by becoming a doctor.
However, her dream was cut short when she received a devistating diagnosis. Martinez was told that she has a condition called Chiari Malformation. The condition involves brain tissue stretching into the spinal cord, which can cause paralysis.
“When I got my diagnosis, I was sent to a neurosurgeon,” Martinez told ABC13. “He told me that I needed brain surgery as soon as possible. If not, I was going to be paralyzed from the neck down. And so within a week, I was undergoing my first brain surgery.”
Despite her disease, Martinez graduated from college and continued to UTHealth McGovern Medical School. During this time she continued to require extensive surgeries.
“Since I was first diagnosed, I’ve had six major brain surgeries,” she told ABC13. “I thought I’d have one surgery. I knew my life would be a little different, but I thought I would have this surgery and go on to med school. And that would kind of be the end of my story. But it’s been quite the opposite of that.”
Her most recent surgery in February 2017 was the most terrifying. She suffered a stroke that left her briefly unable to move from her neck down.
“I had to relearn how to do absolutely everything,” said Martinez. “My mom had to shower me, dress me.”
Even then, Martinez never thought of giving up on her medical dream. She is attending her final year at UTHealth McGovern Medical School and is set to graduate next year.