HOUSTON - It's safe to say that Claudia Martinez is a miracle medical student.
Martinez is set to graduate from the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth next year, but while she studied to be a doctor, she was also coping with being a patient.
While as a student at the University of Houston in 2012, Martinez began blacking out and having severe headaches. That's when a neurosurgeon gave her a life-changing diagnosis: Chiari Malformation, a condition that involves brain tissue extending into the spinal cord. Left untreated, it could cause paralysis.
The doctor told her she needed to have brain surgery right away or face the possibility of being paralyzed from the neck down. A week later, she was on the operating table.
Unlike many people who may have let such a procedure keep them down, Martinez went on to graduate from college and attend UTHealth McGovern. She's had 5 more brain surgeries since then.
Her Instagram page is filled with inspiring photos and videos of her journey. Some even show her in her hospital bed, surrounded by school books. After every surgery, she says she had to re-learn how to do simple tasks, like brushing her teeth, dressing herself and walking.
One surgery she described as particularly scary was when she suffered a stroke
"Initially, I couldn’t function from the neck down," she wrote.
Healthy and ready to take on the world, Martinez recently posted on social media about her future.
"This part of my life is called happiness. I officially finished my 3rd year and have started my 4th year! One more year left of medical school and in May 2020 I will get to be called Dr. Claudia I. Martinez."