MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Love thy neighbor is more than a bible quote for a Mesa family of firefighters. It is their way of life.
“Carley moved into the neighborhood,” said Donann. “They have two kids who go to our school. They are in the fire service and my husband is also in the fire service. So, any event that they do, you know, we invite each other to those things. She has helped families that they run calls on and do anything that she can to help”
“It was March 4, all of a sudden, I had this pain,” said Donann. “I had an x-ray and it showed that I had a kidney stone. I actually texted Carley. I asked her, ‘Can you take me to the hospital?’ They did an ultrasound. The pain kind of subsided a little bit and I went home.”
That night Donann got very sick and her husband took her back to the hospital.
“I had a CT scan and it showed that the stone was a lot bigger,” said Donann. “In a few hours I just crashed. I was in septic shock.”
Donann fought back tears, remembering the night that changed her life.
“It’s so scary because it’s just a kidney stone, that you don’t think about it,” said Donann.
While the next two weeks are a blur for the Mesa nurse and mother, it was the beginning of the love she would be receiving from her neighbor, Carley and her husband as they watched her youngest son for two weeks and treated him like their own.
“The doctor said if you had anything else going on, you wouldn’t have made it,” said Donann. “They had given me a medication that basically clamps down the blood vessels in the extremities and keeps the blood flow to the heart because I had no blood pressure. The side effect of this is to cause the limbs to basically die.”
[READ MORE: Surprise Squad stories]
Doctors tried everything to bring circulation back to her hands and feet. They were able to restore her hands but not her feet. Donann’s doctor determined they couldn’t wait any longer.
“We ended up amputating below the knee on the right. We’re trying to keep the left, but we don’t know,” said Donann.
“Carley is caring. She and her husband were phenomenal,” said Donann. “Her and her mother came and cleaned my whole house, did all the laundry. I mean it was spotless! She got me ramps for all my doors. She didn’t want me to worry about anything.”
Mesa Fire and Medical Department Deputy Chief Forrest Smith set the stage for Carley’s surprise by telling the staff that 3TV would be coming by Mesa Fire Station 212 to interview them about their jobs.
“Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is at it again,” said 3TV’s Javier Soto. “We brought along our partner Valley Toyota Dealers for a huge surprise for a Mesa firefighter.”
Once inside Soto started talking to Carley and her husband about being married and working out of the same fire station.
“We met kind of on the job,” said Mike. “She was on the firetruck and I was in the ambulance and then fifteen years after that, here we are.”
“And you have a lot in common at the time,” said Soto.
“We like to help people. Help our community,” said Carley. “In the fire service, we do a lot of community service work outside of our normal job duties and we go out every year and we adopt a family outside of work that we take toys to.”
“Why go that extra step and continue to give?” asked Soto.
“I think that’s just who we are,” said Carley. “It’s very important to our family to help other people.”
“You went above and beyond for a friend that you just helped out tremendously,” said Soto.
Carley broke out in nervous laughter when she saw Donann come through the doorway in her wheelchair.
“Is this like surprise day?” laughed Carley.
“Surprise!” laughed Soto.
“We are with the Surprise Squad,” revealed Soto. “She nominated you because you have meant so much to her in the last year, plus, as a neighbor, as a friend and really as an angel to her.”
“She has so much going on,” said Carley. “It’s nice to be recognized but I’m just glad that what I’ve done has helped.”
“Well, you help everyone so it’s time for you to be surprised,” said Donann.
“We teamed up with Mountain Shadows,” said Soto handing Carley a box emblazoned with the word "gratitude."
“Oh, look at this,” said Carley, showing her husband the sign inside. “A luxury retreat for two!”
“Alright!” said Mike.
“You deserve that!” laughed Carley. “He’s put up with so much from me.”
“And it’s not just that,” said Soto. “They will pick up your meals, they’re going to pick up your massage and just take care of all the amenities that go along with that because we want you to feel special like you made Donann feel for the last year.”
“Thanks,” said Carley.
“You deserve it,” said Donann.
“Thanks for the treat,” said Carley.
After learning of the tragedy Donann endured and that she still had more surgeries ahead of her, Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad wanted to do something special and surprise the nominator, too. Soto turned to Donann and handed her a small box.
“I want to give you that,” said Soto.
“Ahhh!” exclaimed the women, reading the sign in Donann’s box. It was another luxury stay for two.
“We can go together,” laughed Carley.
“We’re still going to be together,” said Donann. “She’s stuck with me anyways. She’s my neighbor.”
“Mountain Shadows stepped up big time when they heard your story and they wanted to help out,” said Soto. “That’s what Arizona’s Family is all about. Giving back and helping those in need.”
“That’s amazing!” said Donann.
“And we just want to thank you both for sharing your story,” said Soto. “Also for your kindness and for your friendship.”
“This will be amazing,” said Donann.
“Yes, it will be fun,” said Carley. “Thank you, guys, very much.”
Thanks to Mountain Shadows for helping with this surprise.
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is sponsored by your Valley Toyota Dealers.