World Blood Donor Day – Maria’s Story
Raising awareness for safe blood donation is hugely important for communities around the world. We are so thankful to our friend and colleague Maria for sharing her story with us on World Blood Donor Day.
Trigger warning – Please be aware before reading, this is a story of infant loss and life threatening trauma.
A nervous start
We were thrilled to find out we were expecting a baby who would complete our family. Especially after our youngest taking over 2.5 years to conceive, we felt so lucky to have conceived this baby without all the effort and upset of tracking months and feeling disappointed every four weeks.
Morning sickness kicked in straight away and I felt rough! I remember thinking just one more effort from me to get through the pregnancy sickness, aches, pains and how worth it all these days of feeling rotten would be. We were very nervous having previously had an early miscarriage, but as soon as we neared the end of the first trimester we started to relax more and get even more excited about our new baby.
A devastating shock
I then found myself in a situation no one could have predicted, which just goes to show how true the saying is, that you never ever know what is around the corner. You certainly never know when your life may suddenly become wholly dependent on the sheer kindness of others giving you their own blood.
Unknown to us and the doctors, my 16 week pregnancy was not normal or safe. I had a very rare form of undiagnosed abdominal pregnancy (where a baby grows outside of the womb).
On 4th December 2019 my uterus ruptured vertically. This resulted in the devastating and instant death of my baby. Simultaneously, causing me to suffer serious and fast escalating internal bleeding. Time was vital.
Thankfully the hospital were able to access a cross match for my blood within the vital minutes it was needed.
Four units of red blood cells were administered via transfusion during my emergency surgery. This kept me alive, followed by several days of blood pressure medicine, and a supplementary iron infusion.
My immense gratitude to the NHS and medical team for saving my life was instant. But it was as I started to be awake, and more and more aware of what had happened to me, that my thoughts moved to the blood transfusion itself.
The selfless act of four people saved my life
I only learned while in recovery that a person during a regular donation, will give around 470 ml of whole blood, and red blood cells can only be stored for up to 35 days.
It dawned on me that at least four people within the previous 35 days had at some point selflessly donated their blood which in turn saved my life. I remember sobbing one night in high dependency wishing I could thank these people face to face.
Their actions meant I would return home to my family and hug my children once again. It meant that my children would still have a Mummy. It meant my husband hadn’t lost his wife, as well as losing his son that day. It meant he wouldn’t have to sit four young children down and explain Mummy wouldn’t be coming home.
My gratitude to these people is endless. They gave me life. What an incredible gift to give another human being.
Until you really need it
I always knew blood donations were important and had even considered donating several years ago. I went as far as to enquire for registration but was told I wasn’t eligible to donate due to ongoing issues with my iron and history of anaemia. After that I thought I’ve done what I can, what more can I do?
The truth I now know is I could have done lots more. Despite not being able to directly donate myself I could have been far more proactive in promoting the importance, the how to, and sharing information. I guess it is often a case of until you or someone close to you experiences first hand just how vital and essential blood donors are, it does tend to go to the back of your mind.
Save blood saves lives
Regular donors over the course of a lifetime of donations, will save so many lives. Blood donation is simple and safe to do. Just one donation can potentially save up to 3 lives. How incredible is that? I send thanks to each and every person that has donated. I hope you all know what an incredible gift your kindness gives families like mine.
I now take any opportunity to promote awareness of blood donation. I encourage everyone to enquire if they are eligible to donate any of their blood components. I am registered as a full organ donor and encourage others to consider the same.
If like me you can’t donate blood directly for any reason there are lots of other ways to help.
I pledge in my William’s memory to always proactively promote blood donation awareness at every opportunity. Even if it means just one extra donation being made it will be worth it.
You can read more about World Blood Donor Day >HERE<
You really can make a difference to people in your community. Do something amazing and register for World Blood Donor Day.
For more information visit NHS Blood and Transplant https://www.blood.co.uk
Register to become a blood donor today: https://www.blood.co.uk/the-donation-process/giving-blood-for-the-first-time/
Register for organ donation: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/register-your-details/
In Memory of William Leslie Craib