As she lay drenched in blood and dying on the sidewalk after being stabbed 32 times by her boyfriend, little did she know it was to be the beginning of her fairytale.
Melissa Dohme, from Clearwater, Florida, was just 20-years-old when Robert Lee Burton Jr slashed her hands, arms, face and head outside her home, the attack only stopped by a passing couple.
Clearwater firefighter-paramedic Cameron Hill, 38, responded to the 911 call, which he said was the goriest of his 17-year career.
Fate: Melissa Dohme and Cameron Hill were brought together after he was the paramedic on the scene when she was stabbed 32 times by her ex-boyfriend
Melissa was in the hospital for three weeks: She flat lined four times, received 12 units of blood, suffered a stroke that affected her balance and the left side of her face was paralysed
Head over heels: Cameron did not know what to do but could not get the young woman he rescued out of his head. He eventually asked her out and ever since their first date the pair have been inseparable
Love: Melissa Dohme was saved by Cameron Hill, second left, who said he instantly connected with her, even though he couldn't see her face, couldn't tell if she was blond because of the blood and didn't know her name
Melissa ended up being in the hospital for three weeks. She flat lined four times, received 12 units of blood and suffered a stroke that affected her balance, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
A severed nerve partly paralyzed the left side of her face.
Last week, the couple attended the pretrial hearing in the first-degree attempted murder case against her ex-boyfriend Robert Burton
She became determined to reach out to all those who helped save her and to tell her story to others.
After a trip to Europe with her girlfriends, she returned determined to become a nurse.
For a time, she spoke to everyone - except the firefighter-paramedics from Clearwater Station 47.
In October last year when Melissa was speaking at a Clearwater church, two of her first responders surprised her - one of whom was Cameron.
After hugging and crying and exchanging numbers, Melissa said: 'I was weirdly giddy. I had this feeling about him.'
When they met up again, she said she felt she was in the grasp of a full-blown crush, according to Tampa Bay Times as they talked easily and naturally.
Cameron did not know what to do but could not get the young woman he rescued out of his head. But he eventually asked her out and ever since their first date the pair have been inseparable.
Last week, the couple attended the pretrial hearing in the first-degree attempted murder case against her ex-boyfriend Robert Burton.
She testified that he would hit and shove her before allegedly stabbing her in January last year. Though she almost lost her life and it was a traumatic and life-changing experience, Melissa would not change it.
Survivor: Melissa Dohme was stabbed in the face and neck more than 32 times, but her scars are quickly fading; the picture on the right shows how her scars have healed in a two-month span
Emotional: Cameron Hill breaks down in tears as he recalls the sight of his girlfriend lying on the sidewalk drenched in blood
Support: Melissa pictured with her mother Joann at church in Clearwater
On the night of the attack, Burton had been calling and texting Melissa requesting a hug - however, when she met him to talk, she said she heard a click, and then sharp pain in her neck, where he allegedly embedded his knife.
Ms Dohme met Burton at Clearwater High School, and the couple dated for nearly two years.
However, things took a violent turn when Burton allegedly attacked her outside Ms Dohme’s house last October. Court documents allege that he pulled her hair and punched her repeatedly.
The couple broke up soon after. But Burton called and texted the petite blonde over and over on January 24, saying he needed to see her, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Ms Dohme told the Times that she initially ignored him and told Burton that she had class early the next day – it was, after all, around 2:30am.
She agreed to see him when he said he was near her house, around 3am.
He said he only needed a hug. Even so, Ms Dohme took pepper spray with her.
According to court documents, Burton asked for a hug, and then began stabbing her in the face and neck.
During the attack, she was screaming as loud as she could, hoping someone would hear.
A young couple who did not want to be publicly identified happened to be in Crest Lake Park.
Recovery: She suffered a slash to the right side of her face that severed a nerve. The knife also grazed her carotid artery, which meant she was in serious danger of bleeding out
Roving: Ms Dohme, pictured before the attack, still has a long road ahead of her
Law and order: Ms Dohme wrote: 'Ran into these two great men tonight, detectives Ruhlin and Sena! These are the ones working on my case and were able to get the jerk (putting it nicely) to confess his guilt'
The man attempted to push the 245-pound Burton off of Ms Dohme, but was unable to. Meanwhile, the young woman tried to help Ms Dohme escape to safety and called 911.
Ms Dohme told the Tampa Bay Times that the couple’s intervention likely saved her live. '(Burton) would have stabbed me 'til I was dead', she told the Times.
'I know it's a miracle that I am still here. Even the trauma doctor in his notes wrote, nothing short of miraculous.'
Burton was later found after he crashed his car some distance away. He was believed to have overdosed on sleeping pills.
She suffered a slash to the right side of her face that severed a nerve. The knife also grazed her carotid artery, which meant she was in serious danger of bleeding out.
Ms Dohme later counted 32 stab wounds, 18 of which were deep.
‘I know it’s a miracle that I am still here,’ she told Bay News 9 in an interview earlier this month. ‘Even the trauma doctor in his notes wrote, nothing short of miraculous.’
But her fighting spirit, as well as her faith helped her persevere. ‘He didn’t win and I won,’ she told the Times.
Within days of the near-lethal attack, Ms Dohme was able to breathe on her own, could grasp a pencil, and could walk down the hallways of the ICU
Remarkably, she went home three weeks later, and finished out her classes at St Petersburg College, earning A’s in her Humanities and Sociology classes.
Burton faces assault charges in addition to first-degree attempted murder charges.
Ms Dohme hasn’t let the injury slow her down. Though she completes seven hours of rehab weekly, she continues to be the bright, smiling young woman she was before the attack.
She is currently backpacking through Europe with a few girlfriends, and has received an outpouring of support from friends and family.
Her brush with death hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dream – becoming a neo-natal nurse. And more than anything, nearly losing everything has shown her a new appreciation for the small tings.
‘I’ve never loved life so much, I’ve never been so appreciative, I really appreciate every day,’ she told Bay News 9.