DEARBORN, Mich. – April is National Donate Life Month, a time to celebrate the generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, tissue, bone marrow donors and by making blood donations.
The people who have received those donations are grateful every day.
Mohamed El-Souri is a Dearborn college student. He was born in the United States but spent most of his childhood in Lebanon.
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He was 15 years old and living in Lebanon when his health took a sudden and frightening turn.
“I started getting sick out of nowhere. I thought it was like, the common cold,” El-Souri said. “But then I noticed my symptoms like shortness of breath and consistent coughing -- the inability to even sleep at night. This stuff started to worry both me and my family as well.”
El-Souri had heart failure. Doctors put him on a machine called ECMO to allow his heart and lungs to rest. He was in a coma for 10 days.
“I needed a huge amount of blood, and if that amount of blood did not come in time, I would not have been able to survive,” El-Souri said. “My family told me they were posting on social media. They were calling family and friends, and my friends were calling friends -- their friends I didn’t even know. Strangers were coming in trying to donate blood.”
El-Souri survived. Doctors helped him come to the United States, and two months later, he received a heart transplant at Henry Ford Hospital.
“I always keep that thought in my head, that I’m going to use this second chance given by that person who was kind enough to give away their organs after they had passed away. And I will now give my all and give my best to use that organ in the best possible way I can,” El-Souri said.
El-Souri is now a freshman at Wayne State University. He’s majoring in neuroscience. He hopes to go into cardiology to help children and adults going through similar situations.
He’s also passionate about encouraging others to consider organ donations. He hopes more people will become blood donors too.
He said he’s very grateful to the doctors and all of the medical staff members who have helped him on his journey.