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U of A student paralyzed in Spain from rare disease expected to make full recovery

University of Arizona student Kara Dunn, 20, suffers from Guillan-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder that battles the nervous system.

PHOENIX – The University of Arizona student who was paralyzed in Spain has made a miraculous recovery and is set to leave the hospital next week.

Kara Dunn, 20, was diagnosed with Guillan-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder that battles the nervous system, but it took a while to get to that diagnosis.

Dunn thought she would never be able to walk again as she fought for her life. Even the doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute weren't sure she'd make a full recovery. Dunn, however, she's proving that she's a fighter.

Last month, while traveling in Spain, Dunn woke up unable to move her arms and legs.

"I had double vision. In the morning, I couldn't raise my eyebrows, I could talk but it felt like my teeth had fallen out. I had the worst headache in my entire life," Dunn said at a press conference at Barrow Tuesday.

Her brother Ryan and mom Dawn quickly flew to Spain to find Dunn in ICU, on a feeding tube and suffering from pneumonia.

"Nothing prepares you for seeing your family member on a ventilator, especially someone who's so strong," Dunn's brother said.

Doctors in Spain ran tests but it wasn't until Dunn was airlifted to Arizona that Dr. Christina Kwasnica diagnosed her Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The rare auto-immune condition only strikes 1-out-of-100,000 people.

Within 23 days, due to the kindness and generosity of others, Dunn was airlifted to Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

When she arrived, doctors said she lost movement to her arms, legs, hands and feet. She developed pneumonia and her respiratory system started to fail.

"When I first arrived at Barrow, I was still largely paralyzed. I could not even sit up on my own, but here I am, walking with little assistance," Dunn said Tuesday.

Her doctor is proud of Dunn's remarkable progress. Dunn wants to be a physician herself and this experience has only strengthened her passion.

"I will have that same positivity in order to help my patients keep their spirits up," Dunn said.

She still has tingling and numbness in her hands and feet, but Dunn is expected to leave the hospital next week. Her goal is be back at school next month.

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