Stanford Neurosurgery Patient Stories

Featured Patient: David Tran, treated for Trigeminal Neuralgia

After years of suffering with the facial pain condition, Trigeminal Neuralgia, David Tran underwent Microvascular Decompression surgery. Tran wanted to share his story in hopes he can inspire others to seek medical help and get treated for this painful condition. This is Tran's trigeminal neuralgia story in his own words. 


Featured Patient: Beverly McGowan, treated for Essential Tremor

Beverly McGowan, a Nurse Practitioner, received MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound treatment for essential tremor symptoms in the right upper extremity, at Stanford. In this personal video journal, McGowan shares the symptoms of the condition that were affecting her daily activites prior to treatment, including results of neurological testing, and results of symptom relief immediately following the procedure. 


Featured Patient: Kit Carson, treated for Moyamoya Disease

After her 6-month follow-up appointment for a second successful surgery, Moyamoya patient Kit Carson and her new husband Kyle, were treated to a surprise celebration. The Moyamoya team heard that the couple had decided to elope in California earlier in the week, as part of Kit’s trip to Stanford. Wanting to share in their joy, the team brought out wedding cake and Martinelli’s, and expressed best wishes for the newlyweds’ future together. Congratulations Kit and Kyle!!

Patient Stories

Sonia Coontz: Adult Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke

Sonia Coontz said the stroke she suffered made her feel like she was trapped in her own body. The stroke she had in 2011 affected the movement of her right arm and leg, and her speech was no longer intelligible. After modified stem cells were injected into her brain as part of a clinical trial at Stanford, she says her limbs "woke up."  Several years since her treatment, Coontz has retained the physical improvments from the stem cell therapy, and was able to have a baby. Stem Cell Facts Now features Coontz's story in this inspiring video. 


Brett: Traumatic Brain Injury

Brett’s cross-country bicycling trip from Santa Barbara to South Carolina ended abruptly, 1,000 miles short of its final destination. While crossing through Oklahoma, Brett fell, ending his dreams of completing a coast-to-coast charity ride, and nearly ending his life. He was transported by helicopter to the nearest trauma center in Joplin, Missouri, where he spent nine days in a coma. Brett had suffered a subdural hematoma from landing on his head. Once stabilized, Brett was transferred to Stanford for treatment and follow-up care. 


Matthew Ryan: Spine Neurosurgery

Matthew Ryan had been an athlete all his life, but a terrible surfing accident threatened his spinal cord. When Ryan arrived at Stanford, he had multiple fractures of his spine at the sixth and seventh vertebrae, leading down from his skull. One of the damaged vertebrae was pushing the other one out of position and both were pushing against Ryan's spinal cord. Spine neurosurgeons were able to treat the multiple fractures in his spine, and Ryan was able to get back to his active lifestyle.


Mike Harris: Brain Tumor Resection

Over the span of a few months, Mike Harris began experiencing strange symptoms; an avid cyclist, he suddenly couldn’t coordinate riding a bike. He lost control of the right side of his body. Always a great reader, he became frustrated because he couldn’t remember what he’d read at the beginning of a sentence by the time he finished reading it. He lost his appetite. When he did eat, his digestive system would rebel. An MRI of his brain revealed a meningioma—a fist-sized tumor growing in the narrow space between his brain and his skull. Stanford surgeons were able to successfully remove Harris' brain tumor. 

Tim Engberg: Neck and Spine Surgery

Tim Engberg, RN, VP Ambulatory Care at Stanford Health Care, got a cold which led to a rare infection that put his life at risk. The infection caused his neck and spine to collapase twice over the span of two months, requiring extensive surgery to fuse his vertebrae and prevent him from becoming a quadriplegic. Stanford neurosurgeons performed the successful surgeries. In this video, Enberg talks about his experience.

Marjorie Paulsen: Brain Tumor Resection

Marjorie Paulsen didn't think much of the random, unpredictable arm movement she was experiencing, until it began to happen more and more often. Then her left leg began to tingle for hours at a time. Finally Paulsen went in to the hospital and discovered she had a brain tumor. Eight years after being removed the tumor regrew and had to be removed a second time. At Stanford, Paulsen saw a team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, and neuro-oncologists who were able to successfully remove the tumor.