Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Post on Blood Donation .....

Random, right?


The thing is, it really is a post I should have hit a long time ago. And honestly, I cannot believe, that I have written 707 posts and I am fairly certain, I have not even touched on this topic. Ever. Shame on me. But there I was this morning, pounding the pavement on my daily run, and out of the blue, I start thinking, blood donation. The thing you need to know about that little fact, the running part, is this: One of two things happen when I am out on my run. Scenario one finds me totally in in a zone, music cranked, head down.  Absolutely unaware of what is happening around me. Yep, head slightly down looking at the ground. Not really the best of technique's mind you, seeing that the other day I nearly took out a sweet little old lady out for a stroll with her little fluffy white dog. Scared her and actually scared me a bit as well. Really need to lift my eyes more often, don't you think? Second scenario: I have 16 million different topics of life going on in my head and am barely aware of the music blasting in my ears. This morning, scenario two, blood donation.

Maybe it was my previous post on the anniversary of Zoey's treatment beginning, who knows but I really need to get this topic out of my head and down and perhaps, while I am at it, compel a few of you to get out there and donate. You see, Miss Z would absolutely not be here today without the gift of blood and blood product donation. Not just a gift actually. A  LIFESAVING gift. And that gift started long before her treatment for leukemia began, that gift started in the first hours of her birth.

You see, Zoey was born with a rare form of leukemia called TMD. She came out of the womb looking so sick. She was puffy and edemic. You could hardly see her ears. No neck. Her belly was huge. She had red splotches all over her body.


But we didn't realize how sickly she looked  until she was a few days old and she shrunk into this itty-bitty, tiny little baby.



You see, I had never even seen a newborn baby with Down syndrome. None of us had. Zoey was born and we were like, okay looks right to me, I think, but what we didn't really know at the time, was that her blood was so messed up, that her physical appearance was being greatly effected by it. It is not until I see the faces of some other chromosomally enhanced newborns today, that I truly realize how sick my little girl was. There was talk of her having hydrops as well. That was dismissed by my obstetrician in the delivery room but was being spoken at great lengths by the neonatalogist at her birth. Side note: DO NOT google an image of  hydrops unless you have a strong stomach. It is not a nice diagnosis.

Anyway, Zoey was airlifted at  hour 6 of her life, to CHLA and after they stabilized her there, they performed a double transfusion exchange. A transfusion exchange is where they remove a patients blood, in Zoey's case, 10 ml's at a time, and concurrently replace the same amount. And they do this until the patients blood has been, as close as they can estimate, entirely removed and donor blood takes it place. In Zoey's situation, they did that TWICE. Can you believe that? My little newborn baby, a total double body transfusion before she was 11 hours old? Crazy. And LIFESAVING.  And more transfusions followed, too numerous to count, during chemo. Platelets as well. And the thing is, I don't even flinch and didn't even flinch, at the thought of her needing any of it. Much like other things that had to be done in the name of saving her life over the course of the last 5 years. You do what needs to be done with the hope, in the end, it yields the desired result. And Zoey is here, so I as far as we can tell, we made the right choices. I have gotten quite good at surrendering. A lesson, in relinquishing control I suppose. Certain there might be more of that in the days ahead. Sometimes, the path of least resistance proves victorious or maybe it's just that I am too weary to fight in some moments. Hard to tell.

 If you already donate blood and blood products such as platelets and plasma, thank you, thank you. If you don't and you are able and you fall within the criteria of giving, please consider. Mark is a frequent flyer and has started giving at CHLA, which is close to his work. You would think that the supply at a hospital would be plentiful but it isn't  always. I remember a few times being on the floor with Zoey during leukemia treatment and CHLA was out of blood and platelets. Out. Completely out. We had kids bleeding from their gums and noses and open wounds and no platelets and no blood . That is the ugly, ugly truth of it.

There it is. One of my random thoughts while running. You SO do not want to know what else I have floating around up there in my constantly over thinking mind. Scary place sometimes. Scary, scary place.

Couldn't leave you with just the above pictures, could I? Dropped the little love in the middle of the pumpkin patch and she was happy as a clam!



Becca said...

I have never donated blood. I guess because I was pretty sure that I'd pass out, considering how close I get just having blood drawn for tests. I think I should reconsider, though. I know how important it is, as Samantha had to have donor blood for her OHS. Thank you for the reminder of just what this means!

Anna said...

I cant donate.(anemia) I was able to once and was thrilled that I could. (I am terrified of needles etc.) It wasnt nearly as hard as I imagined. I have a good blood type to donate- 0 neg.

The Annessa Family said...

Thank you...just called and I'm going today.


Kristin said...

Great post. Thought about it today (donating blood). I was having blood drawn for an appt next week. I used to give blood all the time. Then one time they hit a nerve or something weird. It HURT. And I couldn't straighten my arm out for a week or so. It freaked me out. But I've had to have a transfusion, and now I always feel guilty that I don't give anymore. Maybe this is the push to give it another try :)

Anonymous said...

Growing up my parents and grandparents gave blood every 8 weeks like clockwork. I was lucky enough to grow up with the impression that giving blood was just something everybody did.

As a 17 year old boy scout, trying to figure out what to do for my Eagle Scout Project, I decided on working with the Rhode Island Blood Center and running a blood drive at my church. I did it on the evening of Halloween. Blood, Halloween it seemed like such a good idea, but people are busy on Halloween and the idea of giving blood and then walking around with their kids all night led to totals a little less than I had hoped for. I should have advertised how great the sugar-high would have been after a couple of snickers while a pint low. Anyway, working so closely with the Blood Center I learned so much about the constant need for blood donations.

I can't say that I have given anywhere near as often as possible but I have always given when the oppurtunity presents itself. Like I said, I was raised thinking that giving blood was just something you were supposed to do.

And then Liam was born. Only hours after he was born it was explained that at some point a blood transfusion would probably in the cards. The next morning I made a bee line for the blood center even though I knew that my blood type wasn't a match. If my family was going to be drawing from the supply, I wanted to help make sure the supply stayed strong. Many of my family members who did match were able to donate directly to Liam which was also nice.

Liam has received blood a number of times in his life and though not a single one of them has been in an emergency-every-second-counts type of situation, Liam wouldn't have survived had the blood needed not been available to him.

Thank you so much Heather for such a great post. It's been a little while since my last donation. I'm going to have to fix that soon.

Oh and by the way, now who's the one writing novels in the comments! Sorry.

Melissa said...

I miss donating!

I started doing it years ago. A very good friends little boy (he was 8-10ish) all of a sudden got a strange condition where his blood was being destroyed faster than his body could replace it. He had lots of transfusions before a spleen (?) removal was able to stop the problem. The removal was a last effort before they couldn't do anything else for him. While that is the situation that got me started, it is something I will do forever. As soon as I'm not pregnant or nursing, of course! :)