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Man hopes recovery after brain condition inspires others

Some of the most deadly conditions are never apparent. Just ask AJ Pearson.

“I went to pour some orange juice,” he explains about a day, eight years ago. “And when I went to pour it, I spilled it all over the place. Like, I couldn't function, nothing was going right. I had a horrible headache, it was like a 13 on a scale of 1 to 10, I couldn't do anything.”

He went to the hospital and, in a matter of hours, Dr. Rashid Janjua began a marathon, 19-hour surgery to begin correcting a condition known as AVM -- arteriovenous malformation -- which, in Pearson’s case, caused serious bleeding in his brain.

“There are arteries like highways that are feeding this ball of blood and that we were going to, one by one, shut these blood vessels down,” Janjua said, about the delicate procedure in a key part of the back of Pearson’s brain that handles important functions. “Things along the lines of being able to move your eyes, chew, being awake, being able to swallow, all the things that we, on a day-to-day-basis, take for granted.”

“Whenever you go through something like that, you usually don't survive it,” notes Pearson.

But he did – what didn’t survive was his blossoming football career.

“Over half my life doing something that I loved and I had just gotten good at it and -- yanked away,” he says.

What’s more important is that Pearson not only survived a condition most people don’t but he has worked hard in rehab the last couple of years to get his life back on track. That’s why he’s telling his story.

“I want people to see this story and say, 'Man, if that guy can go through what he went through and be as strong as he is, I can do anything,’” he says.

“He will not be able to play football,” says Janjua of Pearson’s prognosis. “But he should be able to have a job, go to college, have a relationship, start a family -- all these things -- he should be able to do.”

Meet Pearson and his neurosurgeon in this edition of the Buckley Report.