Giving Blood Gives Back
Rose Faucher knows a thing or two about the importance of donating blood. After all, she has been giving blood since 1966. That was the year she helped her mother run the Holyland Blood Drive throughout Calumet, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan Counties. In 2003, Rose became the Coordinator of the event, held five times each year. But on November 17th, 2009, Rose gained a whole new appreciation of the value of donated blood.
Earlier that Tuesday, Rose had coordinated yet another successful blood drive, their fifth and final of the year. Around 8 pm, after returning home with her husband David, Rose was unloading boxes out of her car when she suddenly found herself unable to breathe. Seeing his wife gasping for air, David, a former EMT, immediately called 911. In what was the first of a series of quick reactions – reactions that would ultimately save Rose’s life – First Responders arrived at the scene in minutes. Luckily for Rose, they lived just down the road.
Oxygen was immediately administered, and although it provided a great deal of relief, Rose still found it difficult to breathe. Soon, an ambulance arrived and EMTs quickly determined the need for a paramedic intercept. Having learned a lot from her husband’s days with the Sheriff’s Department and as an EMT, Rose understood the severity of the situation.
Rose recalls, “That’s when I first thought this could be serious.”
Rose was quickly transported to St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac, where it was determined she had two pulmonary embolisms, both about six inches long.
It was then that David contacted their son, Lee, who serves as the Director of Trauma at the University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery. After talking with Lee and consulting with the doctors at St. Agnes, everyone was in agreement: Rose’s best chance of survival was to be flown to UW Health in Madison for surgery.
Within minutes, Flight For Life arrived at St. Agnes and prepared Rose for the twenty-five minute flight to Madison. Having been intubated in the Emergency Department, Rose remained on a ventilator as she was loaded into the helicopter. Midway through the flight, as flight nurse Jon Hagen and flight paramedic Ryan Gauthier monitored Rose’s vital signs, things took a turn for the worse. Rose’s heart rate had dropped to 30 and her oxygen saturation dipped to just 45. “You think to yourself, this isn’t going to be good,” recalls Hagen. “But no matter how sick someone is, you just have to keep doing what you’ve been trained to do.” Quick action was taken by the Flight For Life crew and Rose’s heart rate and oxygen saturation returned to their proper levels. Upon landing at the UW helipad, the Flight For Life crew was assisted by UW’s MedFlight crew. Having a son who works with the surgical team proved to have its benefits. According to Hagen, “There were lots and lots of white coats waiting there to help.”
Rose was rushed to the ICU for further monitoring and eventually prepared for surgery. At 8 am on Wednesday morning, 12 hours after the symptoms began, Rose underwent successful surgery. In the process, several units of donated blood were administered to keep her alive. For the past 43 years Rose Faucher had given so much of her time and energy, as well as her own blood, to ensure the survival of others. On this day, the favor was returned.
After waking up on Thursday, two days after being rushed to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism in each lung, Rose felt “great!”
Each day that passes, she describes herself feeling better and better. She’s back to work and doing the things she enjoys.
As is often the case, stories like this don’t always have a happy ending. “It didn’t look good,” Rose said, adding with a sly smile, “Everybody thought it was curtains.” But thanks to the quick action of everyone involved, and with maybe just a touch of karma, this one does.
“I’m so thankful to have a husband and son who were trained for this type of thing. I’m thankful for the First Responders who were able to arrive at the scene so quickly. I’m thankful for the paramedics and hospital staff, the Flight For Life crew, and the staff at UW Hospital.”