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Doctors at Barrow perform risky life-changing surgery

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

A Norwegian woman is preparing to return home after a life changing surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

The woman had a rare, dangerous growth of nerves on her spinal cord that at any time could bleed and cause her to become a quadriplegic.

26 year-old Julie Stendal says it was like living with a ticking time bomb in her head.

She noticed her arm was tingling and feeling numb a few years ago that's when her doctors discovered the malformation of nerves.

But now she no longer has to worry after her surgery.

We do need to warn you in this video for this story you will see real images from the surgery.

"I'm feeling surprisingly good," said Julie Stendal.

Just two weeks after having a risky life changing spinal cord surgery, Julie Stendal is up and walking around.

"My recovery here has been going really fast," said Stendal.

Julie traveled to barrow neurological institute in phoenix from her home in Oslo, Norway after multiple doctors told her the surgery to repair a malformation of nerves on her spinal cord was just too dangerous.

"She was facing a very risky proposition," said Dr. Robert Spetzler, director of the Barrow Neurological Institute.

Dr. Robert Spetzler says without the surgery the mass of blood vessels could bleed and be detrimental, on the other hand, any wrong move during the surgery could be the same fate.

"These are as difficult as they get because you have absolutely no room for error," said Dr. Spetzler.

"It just happens to be in an incredibly critical location if the spinal cord doesn't work in that point you will lose the function of our arms, you will lose the function of your legs you will lose the function of your bowel and bladder and it's high enough that it would even affect your ability to breathe," he said.

"I got really scared because everybody has told me we cannot do surgery because of all the risks but when it sunk in I was really excited somebody could do it. It's hard thinking of your life without it," said Stendal.

The surgery took six hours and in the end Julie is now completely cured she'll walk out of the hospital Easter day.

"I'm really excited that I can have a second chance and that Dr. Spetzler gave me that chance," said Stendal.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world as a surgeon when you look at somebody, and you've really made a remarkable difference very appropriate for her resurrection for the future as it is applies to Easter," said Dr. Spetzler.

Julie has been undergoing strict physical therapy. She says she's looking forward to doing sports like skiing and running things she was not allowed to do before this surgery.

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