EAST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — A young woman who was told she would never walk again after a life-shattering, bullying incident remains hopeful and is now using her experience to help others.
Yadira Perdomo was only 16 years old when a bully at her school in Bogota, Colombia pushed her off the third floor of her school. She suffered a spinal injury doctors told her would leave her unable to use her legs.
"I don't believe that!" said Perdomo after the 2009 incident.
The resilient teen said she turned to her faith, vowing to God to walk again one day. "I decided to change my life," said Perdomo.
She went through several unsuccessful surgeries, but in 2010 she met UCLA's Dr. Shlomo Raz, who was working abroad in Colombia at the time. Raz implanted electrodes in Perdomo's lower spine to help her control her bladder and bowel, but he said they can also stimulate nerves that control walking.
"The device got infected, and she looked for me in the United States," said Raz.
Last year, the doctor implanted new electrodes connected to a pacemaker.
"The surgery went well," said Raz. He called her progress a miracle. "She started to stand and walk."
It took Perdomo only five months from that surgery to walk without the brace on her left leg. Perdomo said she's now giving herself a year to walk without the brace on her right leg.
"I have a new life," she said.
Her goal is to be an advocate for other victims of bullying. She's accomplishing that through her anti-bullying organization Unidos Seremos Escuchados — Together We Will Be Hard.
"I think when you are positive, to try to do something good, you feel, like, energy," Perdomo told CBS2 News.
She now speaks to students in Colombia and the U.S. about bullying and disabilities. She plans to speak in Hollywood next week. "I think with my experience, I think I can change the mind," said Perdomo.
She said she hopes to be an example to the younger generation, including her younger sister Hanna.
"When I was little, she was, like, my example to follow," said the proud little sister. "She was the person I wanted to be, and she's still the person I would like to be."
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