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. My patient story has been shared in Inova’s INhealth Magazine and Inova Ignite, and I’m a director of the National Accreta Foundation.
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. I first shared my patient story at a blood drive hosted by my State Senator a year after my near-misses. Since then, I have had many opportunities to speak about the maternal health crisis and the need for blood to students, medical professionals and the general public at events like Maternal Health Awareness Day. I have also written about my experience for the National Blood Clot Alliance and co-authored Nobody Told Me About That, a book aimed at helping new families navigate the first six weeks of postpartum. In addition, 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.
I am a survivor of complete placenta previa, placental abruption, and undiagnosed Placenta Percreta. Almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant with Xander I had a major bleed and was diagnosed with threatened miscarriage. I had many ultrasounds and at around 12 weeks I was told that I had complete placenta previa. I was then put on bed rest and sent to a perinatal specialist. After many months of monitoring and being told that the placenta was not going to move I was scheduled for a c-section at 37 weeks. I was not ever tested for Accreta. When I had placental abruption at exactly 36 weeks, which triggered a massive hemorrhage, I had no idea what was going to happen that day and feared the worst. When I got to the hospital I was taken back right away for a c-section and the doctor quickly realized something was wrong. Next thing I knew I was being put to sleep. When I woke up I was told my baby was fine but I was not. My placenta was still inside me. I was told that it had grown through my uterus and had attached to everything that it could around it including possibly my bowels and bladder. I was sent to another local hospital an hour away where an amazing doctor I had never met before was able to do a complete radical hysterectomy and bladder resection that saved my life. NONE of this would have been possible without blood donors like you! Between both surgeries I received 13 units of blood and at least six units of other blood products through blood transfusions. Without blood donors I would not be here today and my three beautiful children would be without a mother.
I am a survivor of Placenta Percreta with bladder involvement. In January 2014, I was diagnosed with Placenta Accreta. After doing some extensive research on hospitals and Accreta protocols I decided it was best to travel to Houston Texas to deliver my child. I arrived at 27 weeks, now diagnosed with Placenta Increta and went into preterm labor at 30 weeks. I was hospitalized and delivered my son at 33 weeks. After a four hour surgery that resulted in a hysterectomy it was determined I had Placenta Percreta with bladder involvement. In the ICU, I received a blood transfusion which I am so thankful for. As it gave me the strength to see my son and got me on the road to recovery. Thank you for being an Accreta hero! Thank you for giving new moms the life giving support to be the moms they were called to be and for honoring the moms who weren’t able to beat the devastating effects of Accreta, you have made a difference!
I am a survivor of Placenta Accreta and have struggled with multiple miscarriages. During my third miscarriage I needed to have a D&C. Six weeks later it was discovered I had Placenta Accreta and needed a second D&C to remove a piece of the placenta that was embedded and missed during the D&C. I found out I was pregnant with Henry, my living Accreta child, in September 2013. I had three previous D&Cs and knew I had some risk factors. I ended up with a subchoronic hematoma during my first trimester that cleared up by 13 weeks. At my NT scan I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa, and had abnormally high free beta HCG which indicated possible placenta issues. My previa cleared and the doctors felt I was ok so I was cleared for a vaginal delivery. Henry was born May 21, 2014 at 38 weeks and perfect. Unfortunately, my placenta would not deliver. After multiple unsuccessful manual attempts to remove it I started to hemorrhage and was prepped for an emergency D&C. I was wheeled back to the OR where the hemorrhaging started to escalate and this is where I lost the most significant amount of blood. It was such a scary feeling not knowing if I would wake up. Luckily, they were able to perform the D&C and stop the bleeding. I received three transfusions following surgery. I’m very thankful for the blood I received!
I am a survivor of Placenta Percreta. My final pregnancy was to be my third cesarean section. The entire pregnancy I was aware of a complete placenta previa condition, but it wasn’t until 27 weeks that the Percreta was identified. I had gone in for a typical check up, left my two young sons with a babysitter and expected to return home and continue my life as I knew it. Everything changed at that diagnosis: I was immediately hospitalized and now faced a life-threatening condition, my sons and husband faced the absence of their mother and wife, and I was devastated. I received excellent care on the INOVA High Risk Pregnancy unit, and made it until 33 weeks and six days before contractions caused an emergency situation. I was put under general anesthesia for my daughter’s birth, underwent a hysterectomy and required 13 units of blood. I woke up in the ICU and wasn’t able to meet my daughter until she was two days old. The trauma will always be with me, but so will the understanding that many people donated the blood that saved my life. I am forever indebted to INOVA’s blood donation system and grateful to the generosity of strangers.
If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador in your region, learn more here.