Special Report: Donna's Story - Waking Up Stronger - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Special Report: Donna's Story - Waking Up Stronger

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

A 57-year old woman who was enjoying life after retiring from law enforcement came to face-to-face with an unknown monster -- an infection that left her comatose for three weeks.

She survived the horrendous attack, but only after her husband was forced to make a heartbreaking choice that would forever change her life.

Now, Donna Marie Lowery is full of determination and drive. She went to war with an unknown force and survived with unlimited inspiration.

"For all intents and purposes, after three weeks in a coma, I should be dead," Donna said.

The last six months of Donna's life have indeed been life-changing. It all started two days after Mother's Day of 2013, when Donna's husband, Bill, noticed she was acting unlike herself.

"So he took me to the ER," Donna said. "I do not remember getting to the ER. I do not remember leaving the house."

Donna had gone into a coma, and doctors suspected everything from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to a gallbladder issue. Both suspicions proved wrong, and her condition worsened.

"I was on a ventilator," Donna said. "My kidneys failed, so I was on dialysis. My liver failed, and within a matter of days, my blood pressure tanked."

That's when doctors gave her husband the news.

"'You need to make a decision,' and I'm like, 'What kind of a decision?'" Bill Lowery said. "'Well, we can keep either being aggressive, or we can make her comfortable.'"

To let go or not -- Bill was faced with the most difficult decision of his life.

"I went home and prayed about it. Just had a peaceful feeling come over me," Bill said. "It's not her time."

Because of the medications, gangrene started setting in, and the damage to Donna's toes and fingers was irreversible. The infection was moving fast, so Bill was faced with another difficult decision -- amputating Donna's hands and feet.

"Even my son, when he was home, he was like, 'Should we let her go? Because if they take her arms and legs, what's the quality of life going to be like?'" Bill said. "I'm like, 'You know your mom. She's going to bounce back.'"

Donna found out what had happened when she awoke from her coma.

"I had lifted my arm and saw there was no arm there," Donna said. "I then looked at the other arm, and I looked at my husband and said, 'Where are my arms?' And he says, 'Babe, I have something to show you,' and he pulled the covers off the back end of the bed. And I'm wiggling my toes and then, I look down and, where are my feet?"

Just as Bill predicted, Donna has bounced back miraculously. With the help of the physical therapists at Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital, Donna is learning to live with her prosthetics -- new arms, and new legs.

"I brush my own teeth. I comb my own hair. Put on my own make up," Donna said. "The goal is to be able to walk out the door on my own."

Donna is now sharing her experience with others.

"I do hospital visits for my church at Bay Area. The Cancer Center. The Heart Hospital at Spohn South," Donna said. "For my surgeon, he's asked if I would talk to his amputees. So I'm on call to speak and encourage and help those new amputees understand."

She plans to help inspire wounded warriors and those whose traumatic experiences have left them injured in more than just physical ways. She says it's her second chance at life.

For me it's been a blessing," Lowery said. "I'm not going to allow my condition to define who I am."

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