Barrow Saved My Life: Join Me in Paying It Forward

Barrow Saved My Life: Join Me in Paying It Forward

Your Impact

Melissa Izzio has been through a lot. This young woman had an extremely rare spinal arteriovenous fistula (AVF), an abnormal connection of vessels in the tissues around the spinal cord, and a ruptured aneurysm on her spine near the base of her skull. She was admitted to five hospitals, underwent six surgeries, saw countless medical specialists, required a blood transfusion, and needed 42 staples in her head. She endured endless sessions of physical therapy and occupational therapy, and had to re-learn how to walk, dress herself, and eat on her own. Melissa and family would have to travel from Massachusetts to Phoenix for the risky procedure at Barrow Neurological Institute that ultimately saved her life.

Though she is almost 20, Melissa celebrated what she calls her “first” birthday, the anniversary of her life-saving surgery, by raising funds for Barrow Neurological Foundation. Michael T. Lawton, MD, the president and CEO of Barrow, performed Melissa’s successful, intricate surgery. Dr. Lawton is world-renowned and the most experienced neurosurgeon in the country when it comes to AVFs and aneurysms, so he was the only choice to perform Melissa’s surgery.

“Dr. Lawton and his team at Barrow flawlessly executed this risky procedure and saved my life when all other options were out of the question,” says Melissa.

When reflecting on all her daughter has endured, Tricia Izzio proclaims that Melissa is her hero.

“I was with her every step of the way,” says Tricia. “Now I watch her grabbing for everything life presents to her. Our whole family was changed and we make it habit now to appreciate everything.”

Melissa is in her sophomore year at Endicott College in Massachusetts. She made the Dean’s List her freshman year, and is majoring in interior architecture and design with a minor in photography. In fact, her harrowing experience led her to spend so much time in doctors’ offices and hospitals that Melissa decided to concentrate on healthcare interior design to improve the patient experience. She also is the vice president of the Interior Architecture Design Club, and next year she’ll spend a semester studying in Italy.

Follow Melissa’s lead by donating your birthday to Barrow Neurological Foundation. When you give to Barrow, 100% of your donation goes toward unsurpassed patient care, groundbreaking research, and world-class education for the next generation of neuroscientists. With your help, we can make the impossible possible for people with the most debilitating neurological conditions.

You can make your gift go twice as far! A generous donor is matching all donations up to $100,000 to further the life-saving research of the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center, founded by Dr. Lawton. Donate here.