Blood Drive... & the Results Are In!
"Baby is pale."
I was lying down on the table in the operating room after they'd quickly started my emergency c-section just a few minutes prior. I was so utterly paralyzed by fear that I couldn't even form coherent thoughts. I wanted to scream, but I couldn't make a sound. Everything happened so quickly, I didn't even have the time to mentally catch up with what was going on around me.
This is not happening right now. It's a nightmare, and I'm going to wake up any minute now.
I was jolted back to reality when the medical staff let me know that they were getting ready to take Rylea out, and that we could watch them lift her up if we wanted. My heart was racing, but I was so grateful to finally be able to look up and see her perfect little self enter the outside world. For those brief few moments before the NICU team took her, I forgot about everything going wrong and fell completely and totally in love.
My momentary respite was disrupted by the words “Baby is pale.”
Rylea was pale as could be and my doctor was letting the NICU team know that she was very anemic. Rylea desperately needed blood. They were obviously necessary, but those words haunt my thoughts and keep me up at night. I can't convey how much I never want to hear them again. But every 2 seconds, someone hears the equivalent weighted words that they need blood too.
I keep saying this, but you really just assume that blood is going to be there if you need it. But, it’s not a medicine that’s manufactured that we can just buy more of. Every single blood transfusion that our sweet Rylea received was from blood donors like you all who sacrificed their own time and drained blood from their own bodies.
Ironically enough, blood donation has always been close to Ryan and I’s hearts. Early on in our relationship, we went on blood donation dates together (highly recommended date night idea). Now, I can tell you that being on the receiving end of blood donation is entirely surreal. I remember thinking how thankful I was that the blood was there when we needed it, and I felt so much gratitude for whoever those blood donors were.
What if there was just no blood? And what if it was your loved one that needed it? Would you donate then?
Especially now, I say a genuine and heartfelt “thank you” to each blood donor that let me look my daughter in the eye, wrap her hand around my finger, caress her head, baptize her, introduce her to her family, talk to her about her family she’d meet in heaven, and to kiss her entirely perfect cheeks while they were still full of life. Whoever and wherever you are, thank you for giving me the gift of more time. I am eternally grateful.
Yesterday, Tuesday, March 5, 2019, we held our first Living the Life of Rylea blood drive. And thanks to all of you, it was a tremendous success. If you’re wondering why I didn’t write this blog post before the blood drive, it’s because we had already filled the schedule and the amazing staff just couldn’t take anymore appointments. What a great problem to have.
To the friends and family who came out in the absolutely frigid temperatures to save lives, to those who helped support the blood drive in other ways even if they couldn’t donate, to the American Red Cross, to those who tried to donate but were denied, to the people terrified of needles who donated anyway, those of you who waited forever to donate, and to the people we had to turn away because we had so many people show up, you all made this beautiful memorial to our daughter possible. I have been the mom whose child needed a blood transfusion, and I want you to know that your blood is going to real people who are really loved and who really need it.
My body doesn’t so much love donating blood anyway, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also emotional and/or triggered by blood due to the nature of Rylea and I’s fetal maternal hemorrhage. Draining the blood from me and getting sick. Pale people. But, I powered through my fear and my queasiness for you, momma. Obviously, my primary goal was to save patients’ lives, no matter who they are. But to the terrified momma watching her child toe the line of life and death, this blood is for you.
So, we are overjoyed to report that after setting a goal of 60 pints of blood to be collected, we knocked it out of the park with a final total of 80 pints of blood. That is roughly 10 gallons of blood and 240 lives saved.
And we couldn’t have done it without any you.