Survivors

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

alexisI am a survivor of multiple pregnancy complications: Placenta Increta, incompetent cervix, and postpartum hemorrhage. I had several risk factors for Accreta including several D&Cs, hysteroscopies, and advanced maternal age. 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!

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. I was hospitalized for almost a week and immediately put on blood thinners that I would take for the remainder of my pregnancy and beyond. During that time, I was considered very high risk and I was monitored closely by a team of doctors including a cardiologist, pulmonologist and hematologist. Then a week after an emergency c-section delivery, I began experiencing abdominal pain that worsened over time. I reached out to the on-call obstetrician three times over the span of 24 hours and was dismissed the first two times as she was certain my pain was due to my uterus contracting after birth and some constipation following my c-section. Nearly 24 hours later, my condition deteriorated so much that my husband rushed me to the emergency room. Upon arrival, I was whisked to the Trauma Unit where my blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level of 37/25 and they determined I was bleeding internally. We later learned that I was also suffering from two other conditions, a supratherapeutic INR (high blood thinning) and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), which made my situation even more catastrophic. 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 areas including a ruptured artery, a ruptured uterus and two hematomas (an abnormal collection of blood outside a blood vessel). My surgeons also removed over 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. If it was not for the generosity of those who gave blood, I may not have become stable enough to have surgery and wouldn’t be here right now to raise my son. Blood donors gave me a shot at surviving a perfect storm of postpartum complications! Now, I want to use my experiences to raise awareness of perinatal complications and the enormous need for blood donations. I want to do my part to ensure future patients have the blood they need so they can be survivors too.

Chelsey

chelseyI 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.

Dawn

dawnI 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!

Katie

katieI 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!

Megan

meganI 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.