June 9, 2012, started as a day of celebration for a young couple expecting their first child. When Angel and Samantha Burt arrived at the baby shower being held in their honor, they had no idea that within hours Angel would be fighting for his life. “I had been having some trouble breathing for a couple of weeks before that,” Angel said, “but I thought maybe I had an infection. I never thought it would be what it turned out to be.” Angel had no idea that a time bomb was ticking inside his body. During the shower Angel collapsed, experiencing extreme respiratory distress. He was rushed by ambulance to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where his heart stopped, and he had to be resuscitated.
The Burts credit rapid response from EMS, gifted surgeons, and blood donors for saving Angel’s life. “You try to prepare yourself for the worst on the drive to the hospital,” Samantha says. “I thought maybe it was an allergic reaction or something, and then he wound up in surgery for nine hours. Doctors did open heart and lung surgery to remove a blood clot, which was two feet long and started as a deep vein thrombosis in his leg. He was only 19 years old at the time.” During and after surgery, Angel received 49 pints of blood, an astounding number considering that the average human body normally contains 10 pints. “From what the doctors have said, they were just pouring the blood into him in order for him to stay alive,” she said. Angel was diagnosed with lupus anticoagulants, which is a disorder that causes increased clotting within the body.
Angel spent six weeks in Sarasota Memorial recovering from his near-fatal experience. While he was in the cardiac step-down unit, Samantha went into labor. Nurses were able to wheel Angel to her side in time to be present for the birth of their son, Zayden. Today Angel is “as good as new,” Samantha says. “If it wasn’t for those who donated blood, he would not be alive,” Samantha said. The Burts are now the proud parents of two, with the addition of daughter Aria.