DETROIT - What started as an ordinary day for Fadwa Fawaz suddenly turned into the fight of her life.
In 2001, the mother of two from Dearborn was on the job as a nurse in an intensive care unit when she passed out.
"When I came to, I started vomiting large amounts of blood," Fawaz said.
She was suffering from massive internal bleeding, and doctors didn't know why.
"When I was taken to surgery, it was kind of a last-ditch effort," Fawaz said.
A blood vessel in her stomach had burst. Surgeons were able to stop the bleeding, but she underwent multiple blood transfusions to survive.
She recovered, and thought the whole ordeal was behind her.
Then, 11 years later, the same thing happened.
"We were actually out, me and my coworkers on our Christmas lunch, and I passed out," Fawaz said. "It was even a worse bleed than the first time and apparently the artery was even larger, and because it's an arterial bleed, it's spurting blood and so, as they're putting it in, I'm losing it."
Again, Fawaz needed a massive amount of donated blood. She went through an entire blood drive's stock, 65 units of blood and blood products.
"I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my God. Where did they get all this blood from?' And I'm only one patient in the hospital," Fawaz said.
She pulled through and was even able to celebrate Christmas with her two sons.
"They insisted, on Christmas Day, to bring the gifts to the hospital. So we had Christmas Day in the hospital," Fawaz said.
The grateful mother knows that without the gift of donated blood, she never would have lived to see the holiday.
"It gave me my life. Very simply, it gave me my life. That's the reason I am here today," she said. "I'm very, very luck and I appreciate everything."
Fawaz now serves as a board member for the American Red Cross of Southeast Michigan. She shares her story to encourage others to give.
"I'm always saying donate blood, if you can, because you never know whose life you're saving," she said. "We're all brothers and sisters, really. We all help each other and what better to give the gift of life any chance you get."
How to donate blood
Call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
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