Romanian teen underwent surgery for rare condition in Phoenix

A teenage boy facing the possibility of full paralysis has undergone life-altering surgeries at Barrow Neurological Institute.

The teen, 15-year-old Stefan Pascu, came all the way from the Eastern European country of Romania for the delicate surgery. Following the surgery, Stefan is all smiles.

In March, Stefan flew to Phoenix with his family, looking for help to cure a rare condition that only affects 20 people out of a million.

Dr. Michael Lawton, President and CEO of Barrow, described the condition Stefan was suffering from.

"Abnormal arteries connected to the veins, and it had basically taken over his spinal cord and his cervical spine," said Dr. Lawton.

The condition caused hemorrhaging, and left half of Stefan's body weak. Stefan underwent two surgeries, lasting about 10 hours. The surgeries were ultimately successful.

"I felt relieved that finally, someone said it could be removed because out of all doctors I went to, no one said it was possible to remove it surgically. Everyone said it could not be done," said Stefan.

"He's a great kid," said Dr. Lawton. "He's been working hard. We have great therapists who use physical therapy and exercises and all kinds of things that will strengthen his hand and arm."

The therapy includes time in the pool, and even the use of an exoskeleton to assist Stefan's body, as he gains strength.

"I'm feeling much better day by day," said Stefan.

Stefan's parents are relieved, and they want other people facing medical challenges to never give up hope.

"The last five years was hell, and we were looking for solutions everyday, and now, it's wonderful," said Stefan's mother, Marlena Pascu.

"Don't lose hope, and all of them should hope to recover some day and fight for their lives and get strong mentally, and don't give up for this disease," said Stefan's father, Christian Pascu.

"We like to review some of these complex cases that others find hopeless, and we can often find solutions, and the fact that Stefan found us all the way in Romania and was able to travel in the midst of a pandemic all the way to Phoenix, I think really speaks to the fact that things are reopening, and centers of excellence like the Barrow stand above the rest, and we want to let people know we're here," said Dr. Lawton.

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