A mother’s perspective and plea
By Lauren Hancharick, guest blogger
Camden was 3 weeks old when he received his blood transfusion Aug. 22, 2019. He spent 20 of his first 23 days of life in and out of the hospital three different times. Once he was discharged and readmitted into the same hospital two times, not including his birth, we were finally sent to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. He had many blood tests every day and by the time he reached 3 weeks old, his blood had reached dangerously low levels. I will never forget the wave of emotions that came over me when they came into the room and told me that.
My first question as his mother was “Can I donate?” That was when I was informed that I was not able to donate because of the cleaning process that the blood must go through, as well as the virus CMV that 90% of the population carries. I was completely at the mercy of some kind stranger to save my newborn son’s life.
Today Camden is 6 months old and living at home, instead of a hospital! He is the happiest baby I have ever met and loves to smile and laugh. He loves his milk, to roll, and to chew on anything and everything you will allow! Camden is doing very well. He is just being monitored. Receiving the blood transfusion seems to be the turning point in his illness.
I am unsure how you measure units of blood but at 3 weeks old, he received two full syringes of blood. (The very large ones put into the transfusion machine).
Camden’s illness completely rocked his family. He is the first grandchild on both sides of the family and the first great grandson on his father’s side. I stayed in the hospital with him the whole time he was there, and his dad stayed until he had to return to work. My husband had run out of time off, unfortunately. The rest of his family visited often.
Since then his mom will tell anyone who will listen about the importance of donating blood, for the babies! His mom and dad also have donated twice since things calmed down and plan to donate regularly for the rest of their lives.
I always say “thank you,” with tears in my eyes to people who donate regularly. I hugged a total stranger at a blood drive the other day because I found out she was CMV negative and donates as much as possible. I also always tell people that it really makes a difference and that I wouldn’t have my son today if it wasn’t for a complete stranger’s kindness.
I have posted many times on social media to motivate people to donate. I always inform them that babies do not make blood for the first two to three weeks of their lives so any baby with illnesses at birth are at risk of needing a transfusion. I also include information about the CMV virus so they know only a very select few people who donate can actually have their blood given to a baby.
I believe most people think, “If someone I know needs it, I’ll donate” but it does NOT work that way. A completely anonymous donor has to have given at least a week before it is received so it can go through the very important process of cleaning and testing the blood so it is safe for you or your loved one to receive. My son had been inside me three weeks prior and they would not take my blood to give to him. I especially want to motivate people for the babies. But as mothers it never really matters how old our children are, they are always our babies.
When you donate, you save someone else’s baby. It’s as simple as if you or a loved one were in need, you would want someone else to think it was worth their time to spend 20 minutes one day to donate. I know a lot of people have fear of needles, but I just ask them to imagine the fear a mother experiences when she finds out her child, especially a newborn, needs a blood transfusion. When you donate blood, you save someone else’s baby, someone else’s spouse, someone else’s parent, or just someone else. IT IS WORTH IT! IT IS FREE! IT IS IMPORTANT!
Edited by Glenda Bogar/American Red Cross volunteer