'I didn't think we'd make it here'

'I didn't think we'd make it here' »Play Video
SEATTLE -- An intuitive dad from Alaska and a brilliant surgeon from Seattle together made a life-saving discovery.

Jimmy Rea's recovery is nothing short of a miracle.

"I didn't think we'd make it here," said his father, Ed Rea.

The 17 year old's home town of Wasilla, Alaska is known for his neighbor, Sarah Palin, not neurosurgeons.

"I think he would have never made it in Wasilla," said Dr. Laligam Sekhar.

Just before Thanksgiving, Rea suffered an unbearable headache.

"And it felt like someone was stabbing me in my eyes," the teen said.

His dad rushed him to a nearby hospital, suspecting what happened to his sister was happening to his son.

"I turned around and yelled at the nurse that aneurysms run in my family," Ed Rea said.

Dad's guess was dead-on; a blood vessel had blown out.

"This aneurysm that he had -- without treatment, has a 70 percent mortality," Sekhar said.

Ed Rea never left his son's side. They flew the teen to Anchorage where doctors told them chances of survival would be better in Seattle.

At Harborview Medical Center, Sekhar is one of only a handful of surgeons in the world who performs the risky surgery.

"This is a very delicate procedure," the surgeon said. "It's so difficult that certainly surgeons can learn, but very few can practice it well."

Sekhar removed an aneurysm the size of a lemon that had been pushing on Jimmy Rea's brain stem. He then reconnected blood vessels so the teen wouldn't suffer a major stroke.

"In this location, it's the largest aneurysm I've seen," the doctor said.

Jimmy Rea now has a gnarly scar to show friends when he returns home.

Sekhar expects with time, the teen will be even better than before, since the aneurysm was likely affecting his brain functions for years.

The teen will have to be monitored for aneurysms for the rest of his life but nevertheless, his father is still very relieved.

"God was with us the whole time and kept our family together," he said.