Airman Portraits: Mother of two saved by blood of four

  • Published
  • By Tara Spacy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Blood was escaping her body at a rapid pace, and Staff Sgt. Amanda Bouquet found herself knocking on death's door only 30 minutes after experiencing the miracle of life.

"They did not find out I had an arterial bleed until 30 minutes after my twins were born," said Bouquet, 81st Medical Operations Squadron pediatric NCO in charge, said. "I continued feeling these gushes of blood, and being a med. tech., of course, I'm like, 'I know that's not right.'"

Bouquet gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy, on Sept. 7, 2011, while stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. She had already been moved to a civilian facility because the base did not have the capacity to deliver twins, initiating the first phase in a series of events that would save Bouquet's life.

"Evidently, they said that my son nicked an artery in my abdomen somewhere. They didn't know that that's what it was, so they sewed me up thinking it was just blood from the pregnancy," Bouquet said.

As Bouquet continued to bleed out, the doctors realized it was coming from an artery and rushed to do a manual surgery to stop the bleeding. After the first surgery failed, they actually turned to a form of surgery that, according to Bouquet, is not yet commonly performed throughout the U.S. The procedure involved shooting a gel into Bouquet's iliac artery, which then stopped all blood flow into her abdomen and in turn, caused her organs to begin shutting down.

"I also developed HELLP Syndrome," she said. "It's where your body does not reproduce the red blood cells you're losing. So, I was rapidly losing blood, but my body was not compensating for what I was losing."

Though the surgery saved her life, it took Bouquet months to recover from its effects.

"I had to use a walker for the first three weeks, I think. I couldn't take a shower by myself; my husband had to help me do everything. I had twins that I was breastfeeding," Bouquet said.

To top it off, Bouquet and her husband, who is also active-duty in the Air Force, had to move to their next assignment when the twins were only 7 months old. Through it all, however, she has never lost faith and never forgotten her true saviors: the four donors whose blood it took to rescue her life.

"It's very important to me to portray the message, and I think it helps when people see a face," Bouquet said. "It took four people, four different people, for me to be able to be here today. The appreciation of that from somebody who is able to experience it is just amazing, To be able to have an extra day with my kids."

Bouquet's resolute faith and strength were bred from childhood as she took on the many blows life dealt her. Growing up, she had to deal with her parents' broken marriage, her father's physical and verbal abuse, and taking care of her younger brother. As tough times brought her down a path of drugs, she realized that she wanted more out of life and decided to enlist in the Air Force at age 19.

"Just seeing my friends just not doing anything with their lives, having kids and still doing the same thing. I don't talk to any of the friends I had before, and I realized who my true friends were," she said. "I knew the road I was heading down, I would either end up in jail or worse. I think that if it wasn't for the military I would be a lot different."

Today, Bouquet focuses on being a mother and mentoring her Airmen, which in many ways go hand in hand. At home, she spends her time taking care of her kids.

"They're a mess," she laughs. "They scheme together. One goes one way, the other goes the other way, so, it's constantly running around, chasing after them."

At work, she hopes to one day become a chief master sergeant by looking out for her Airmen and earning their respect.

"I want to be someone who is looked up to and respected for the person that I am, not just the rank. And I want to be able to mentor some of the younger (Airmen) whose supervisors may not be good, or may not mentor them or guide them in the way that they need to," Bouquet said.

Bouquet continues to share her story, whether it is her hardships, her failures or her successes, and uses it to inspire those around her, especially the Airmen.

"I want them to get a good experience out of the military. I don't want them to walk away thinking, 'God, you know, the military sucks.' I really don't want people thinking that because it's done so much for my life," she said. "You know, I wouldn't have my family, I wouldn't have my children, I wouldn't have half the things that I do now."