These blood drives are organized by local survivors and patient advocates who required blood transfusions in order to survive childbirth. Here are a few of their stories:
Alexis – Washington DC Area Ambassador
I am a survivor of multiple pregnancy complications: placenta increta, incompetent cervix, and intraoperative hemorrhage. I had several risk factors for accreta including several D&Cs, hysteroscopies, and advanced maternal age. Placenta accreta was suspected in my third trimester and I was immediately transferred to a hospital that could handle this serious condition. I was kept on hospital bed rest and monitored for bleeding and contractions. My son was born with a huge team of top medical experts supporting the complicated surgery, planning for the absolute worst case scenario: bleeding to death. During surgery I lost approximately five pints of blood, half of the blood in my body, and had to have a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding and save my life. I was awake during the surgery and specifically remember the frantic call to the blood bank for blood. I survived because of a blood transfusion – because of the generosity of others. More details about my patient story can be found on National Accreta Foundation’s website.
Casey – New Jersey Ambassador
It would be an understatement to say I had a challenging pregnancy and postpartum, dodging death not once, but twice. When I was 24 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary emboli after an incident at work left me gasping for breath. Then a week after an emergency c-section delivery, my husband rushed me to the ER where we learned I was hemorrhaging internally. I received twenty-two units of packed red blood cells, plasma and platelet transfusions — more than my entire blood volume — to stabilize my condition so surgeons could repair six different bleeding locations. In total, my surgeons removed five liters of blood and clots from my abdomen. Going through two near-misses has been eye opening. I didn’t know the rate of maternal mortality was rising in the United States while it was declining in other wealthy nations. I also didn’t know that new mothers are one of the largest groups of people requiring blood transfusions until I became one of them. Now, I want to use my experiences to raise awareness of perinatal complications and the enormous, endless need for blood donations. Since my near-misses, I have had many opportunities to speak and write about the maternal health crisis, including co-authoring Nobody Told Me About That, a book aimed at helping new families navigate the first six weeks of postpartum. In addition to hosting blood drives, I co-lead a peer-to-peer support group for Postpartum Hemorrhage Survivors and blog about my experience at The Heart of Home.
Mary-Jo – Florida Ambassador
I’m a survivor of undiagnosed placenta increta. I had a full-term normal pregnancy and delivery with my daughter, and we went home from the hospital a happy and healthy family of four. I didn’t have any of the common risk factors for accreta other than advanced maternal age. I had never had a c-section and it was my second pregnancy. It wasn’t until the day after I was sent home from the hospital that I realized something wasn’t right. I met my doctor at the ER and he scheduled a D&C for what was suspected to be retained placenta. I hemorrhaged during the D&C and required 10 units of blood products and a lifesaving partial hysterectomy. I woke up in the ICU and then learned all that had happened. I am so grateful for the blood donations and care I received and the system that was in place to save my life.
Amie – Connecticut Ambassador
I am a survivor of postpartum hemorrhage after what seemed to be an ideal pregnancy. I wasn’t high risk, I had no detected issues, and my pregnancy was a relatively smooth journey. After going through a long (46 hours) & hard labor (4 hours of pushing, presence of meconium, failure to descend, etc) we delivered our baby via c-section. I was awake & elated to finally have her out safely. I experienced typical blood loss during the cesarean but was stitched up and returned to the L&D room to do skin to skin. While the nurses were performing a post OP abdomen exam I began to feel excruciating pain in my abdomen and soon in my shoulder. As my body began to go into shock I was rushed back into the operating room. The surgeon discovered massive amounts of blood loss & a tear in my uterus that they couldn’t repair. Ultimately they had to remove my uterus and transfuse 8 units of blood to keep me alive. But I am here and so grateful to my donors who allowed me to live!
If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador in your region, learn more here.