Man walking on beach

One in a Thousand | Fadi's Story
Story 116

Fadi Mahmoud: It's my wife's birthday. We get to the beach and I'm carrying the ice chest and a couple other bags. And she sits down. She's expecting me to sit down, which I usually do. Except this time I'm just going to go for a quick run. So I went for a run and I never came back.

Ehab Daoud, MD: I remember when seeing him, he was in pretty bad condition, covered all in sand. Sand in his eyes and his ears and his mouth.

Fadi Mahmoud: So I wake up in ICU 12 days later and I see a nurse above me. And I'm looking at the ceiling and she says, "Do you know where you are?" And I said, "Hospital?"

Speaker 3: Say hello to your mom. Say hello. Say hello. Hi.

Fadi Mahmoud: Hello.

Speaker 3: Hello. Salami. Salami and cheese. Salami and cheese.

Ehab Daoud, MD: So we presume that he had a heart attack that led to his heart stopping and then drowning in the water. We had to cool his body temperature, we call it hypothermia, mild hypothermia, just to protect the brain from the effect of the loss of circulation during the CPR.

And another reason for, I mean, nobody knows, again, other than God, whoever you believe in, our brain and our heart, once they're damaged, they do not regenerate. You do not heal, make new cells to regenerate. What damage is done, it's done. So your most biggest fear is when somebody with no oxygen, no circulation, you have no more than one or two minutes. You're worried that there will be enough damage. And unfortunately, actually the prognosis in an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is very dismal for a patient to wake up and get to walk out of the hospital. That's not even one in 1,000.

Fadi Mahmoud: Later, I got to know the story. So I went to one of the firefighters and I said, "Christmas Eve, Christmas day, you remember you helped somebody?" He said, "Yeah. December 24th, Lanikai, right?" I said, "Yes." "Is that you?" He said, "Oh my God, you're standing." So I said, "What happened?" They said, "Oh, we're just driving around. It's Christmas time, busy, a lot of tourists. A couple of minutes, we just get the call. And you are a block away from us. And we run." They said, "But there was somebody helping you before we arrived. He goes by Bill and here's his card."

I take the card and I call William. And he says, "Who is that?" And I said, "You don't know me, but you did help somebody in Hawaii, Lanikai beach." He said, "Yeah." I said, "It's me." He said, "I was there when you fell. I run to you and I see a lady helping you. You lost breathing and pulse." He said, "At that point, I start doing CPR on you and you came back. And at that point, the firefighters came. They're getting the stretcher ready. The ambulance is coming and you lose it again.

My wife tells me she arrives in the ER. She says, "I see Sara." She said, "Who are you?" She said, "Oh, I am part of the chapel here and I'm praying for him. He coded." She said, "But you're Christian. You're praying for him. He's Muslim." So later, of course, I told Sara, I said, "Sara, you can pray anything for me. We'll pray together." She's a sweetheart.

Sara-May Colon: After they got discharged, I kept in touch with them for a little bit, but honestly a whole year went by. And then on Christmas Eve the next year, I get this text message, and it's Fadi standup paddle boarding. And my heart was just like, "Oh my goodness, look how great he looks. And he's so strong and he's so happy." And so we caught up and how he's learning to relive his life and be more intentional and find health and wholeness. He is one of the patients that I think reminds the staff why they do what they do.

Fadi Mahmoud: I start thinking about all of that. I believe there are angels and I believe there are times when they come and take care of you. CJ, Janna, Dr. Daoud, Dr. Benson. They are unbelievable. Every time, December 24th, since it happened to me, I come back to the hospital and try to meet them. I don't remember one time I pushed the button, the nurse call button, and nobody came. You can feel the blessings in them. You can feel the Aloha in them. You can feel that they care. And that's the most important, they sincerely care.

Knowing that I need to take care of myself, not for myself, I need to care of myself because I don't want to hurt friends and family and anybody who knows me. How dare I do this again to them? So with that goal in mind, I need to take care of myself.

I started running … five minutes, six minutes. Now, I can do 65 minutes, four miles straight, jogging. And then I do two miles walking after that. My health was important to me, but it wasn't my priority. So if I can just help one person, if somebody can hear me, what I went through, and make their health and life their priority, that is enough for me.