Doctor has new perspective after becoming patient himself

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A tragic accident nearly killed a young doctor but it also helped him learn a valuable lesson in what doctors need to do to help their patients heal.

"All my life I wanted to become a doctor and I was finally starting to do doctor stuff,” Jose Villela said.

But the tables turned last January when the 24-year-old was coming home from a Mexico City hospital.

“I was going back home from a shift in the hospital where I was working as an intern and suddenly a garbage truck fell from an overpass over my car,” Villela said.

It was a tragic accident that left him paralyzed. Villela would spend the next nine months in the hospital. While progress was being made, he decided to seek even more medical treatment at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix.

“We wanted the 100 percent, to do the 100 percent, not just the 99 percent,” Villela said. “We wanted it all and that's why we came here to gain more independence and to do more exercises. I can move my elbows, I can do some wrist extensions and I'm beginning to do more things by myself.”

It's something his physical therapist Brianna Murphy has watched since he came through Barrow's doors a month ago.

“For the first time he was able to be outside in the community,” Murphy said. “So we worked on curbs and ramps, sidewalks and going out to lunch and dinner.”

Villela’s determination also helped him earn the title of doctor. He passed his medical school exams from his hospital bed in Mexico City back in July.

“For all of this time, I've been in medical school and I only learned medicine from books, now I have like a 360-degree view of medicine," Villela said. “I think this can help me to be a better doctor in the future. Now I know what my patients' needs are and I pretty much know what a patient needs in a doctor.”

While his recovery is still ongoing, this young doctor is not about to let his wheelchair get in the way.

“I will be a doctor even from a wheelchair,” Villela said. “You need to fight for what you've always wanted, no matter what life has prepared for you.”