BOISE — At just eight years old, Julia Porter noticed pain in her abdomen, which seemingly never went away.
“We went to the ER a couple of times cause I just had so many problems," said the 17-year-old.
Those ER visits led to a total of 7 surgeries, all before turning 18.
“We were kind of hesitant to do surgery because we were told once you take out a portion of the colon you have to keep going back in, and so after he diagnosed it we went to go do the first actual surgery, and he removed my ascending colon," said Julia.
Surgeons removed her colon and gallbladder. She also needed other related surgeries, including anterior sphincteroplasty and laparoscopic-assisted colostomy.
It led to weeks of hospital time. There was one thing that got Julia through it.
“Reading, honestly," said Porter.
She said it sounds corny, but reading all types of books allowed her a temporary escape from the hospital. One specific genre stands out: medical books.
“I’m reading one right now about Joseph Lister, someone who basically created sanitization for the medical field," said Porter.
Her surgeon at Saint Alphonsus, Dr. Adrian Curnow, helped kick-start her passion for surgery. Julia is currently shadowing him for her senior project at Idaho Technical Career Academy, which she chose as “surgery.”
“I’ve been doing that the past three weeks, and I’ve already gotten so many details what I’m going to include in my paper," said Porter.
Soon, she’s heading to Boston as one of the teens chosen for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. She’ll meet Nobel Prize winners and learn more about medical science.
“They said there will be a surgery to watch, I'm not sure which one, but I'm looking forward to that," said Porter.
Her success hasn’t been easy to achieve; it’s been both a physical and mental journey.
"A lot of the kids (at a previous school) were like 'oh she’s probably just faking,' and that took a toll, not only missing school but also thinking what other people are thinking," said Porter.
Now happier and healthier, she’s hoping medical school is on the horizon. First, she needs to graduate from high school.
"After the surgeries, I just got to experience it for myself with gave me kind of a new sense that I knew what I wanted to do, and I love it already," said Porter.
Julia is currently making all A's at Idaho Technical Career Academy and aspires to get into medical school. If all goes according to plan, Julia hopes to work in Idaho as a surgeon.