Collegeville, Pa. (WTXF) - It's been quite a journey for a Chester County teenager who had brain surgery when she was just 9 years old. Amazingly, she has come out stronger and her goal in life is to make a difference for children going through similar situations.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," Ursinus College Sophomore Renee Butler said.
It is a painful memory, Renee Butler was only 9 years old when out of nowhere she started suffering from severe headaches.
"It was excruciating like I've never been in so much pain. It was my entire head was just pounding and it radiated down my body," she said.
Renee would end up at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors determined she had an arteriovenous malformation on her brain or AVM, which is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connection arteries and veins and it was bleeding.
"It was very scary when they said they were admitting her. We see blood on the CAT scan—very scary," her mom, Grace Soprano Butler, said.
On September 18th, 2008, the fourth grader would have brain surgery. It was a 6 and a half hour operation when she woke up, she couldn't move her left side. She would spend 5 1/2 weeks in intense physical therapy at CHOP.
Her mom by her side every step of the way, never giving up hope. Amazingly, Renee walked out of CHOP all by herself without any help.
Fast forward 10 years, the 19-year old is a sophomore at Ursinus College in Collegeville and it's no coincidence she's studying neuroscience.
"I want to go into research for pediatric brain trauma. It was exactly what I went through and I know it's kind of cheesy to say I want to help other kids, but I do," she explained.
It's been quite a journey and Renee's mom could not be prouder.