When I was asked to work on a campaign with Smart Cells to share my experience of blood transfusions, it brought up bittersweet memories for me. Hopefully, once you’ve read this post to the end, you can understand why I think blood transfusions are important.
Before having my daughter, I hated the idea of using something to enhance my looks. That’s why most days I wear zero make-up. It’s also why I did not and still do not use wigs and the likes.
At one of my scans whilst pregnant, it was discovered that I had a very tiny fibroid present. I was then told that it increased my risks of having excessive bleeding during childbirth.
I cringed at the thought of receiving someone else’s blood. I think I had once watched a sci-fi movie (can’t remember the name now) where someone had received an eye transplant and started ‘seeing things’. I can’t say if that contributed to my internal cringe but I just could not imagine having someone else’s blood flowing through my veins. No, I’m not religious but just as much as I cringed at the thought of wearing someone else’s hair, so also did I cringe at the thought of having someone else’s blood.
My life was in chaos whilst I was pregnant, so I cannot remember if I actually told anyone this but it crossed my mind to ask to ‘donate’ some of my own blood for storage so that if the need arose, they could use my own blood instead. I probably did ask the question and was told it was not an option or I thought I did. I assure you, pregnancy brain is a real thing.
Funny enough, at one of my midwife checkups, the midwife was surprised that I knew what my blood group was. This actually reminds me of a conversation that I had with my daughter’s doctor at a routine checkup. I told him that I wanted to know her blood group and he refused saying that it was no longer important to check it or it was no longer routinely.
This was really surprising to me because growing up, my mother ensured that my siblings and I knew what our blood groups were. I’m O+
Do you know your blood group?
According to Health Digital, there isn’t an even split in the number of people across each blood group type in the UK.
A: 42% of the UK population
B: 10% of the UK population
O: 44% of the UK population
AB: 4% of the UK population
These blood groups then separate down further into Rh-positive or Rh-negative, giving us eight blood types in total. All blood groups except for type O have the option to receive blood from one or more other blood groups, type O which is considered the universal blood group can only receive type O blood.
That’s spine-chilling . . . so if a person with blood group O needed a blood transfusion and there were only 10 people available, only 4 of them could potentially have the same blood group.
I once read that blood group O is the universal donor, ie it can give blood to anyone, whilst blood group AB is the universal accepter and can accept blood from anyone. So if you are among the 4% of the UK population that belongs to blood group AB, you are fine then, woohoo lucky you.
Post-Partum Haemorrhage and why I think blood transfusions are important
Anyhoos, back to my story. So D-day came and my baby was not playing around, she was eager to be born. 2 hours and 50 minutes later, I held her in my hands then I heard the scariest words from the midwife: I don’t know why you are bleeding, I can’t find the source of the bleed and before I knew what was happening there were several doctors and lots of other people that I had no clue who they were. I’m guessing at 3:20am in the morning, I was their very own Greys Anatomy TV show.
Before you could say Jack Robinson (who’s Jack Robinson, why is it even a saying? I digress) I was whisked off to the theatre to have my insides stuffed like Christmas turkey. By the time I was discharged, I had received three bags of fluids and two bags of blood (or was it the other way around?) I had lost 2000 mls of blood (about 40% of my blood volume).
As a parent now, when I’m outside of my home and my daughter is at nursery, I do think of the unpredictability of life. Some times, we think we have control, that we can control our lives but we actually can’t. Things do happen that are outside of our control.
I sometimes ask myself “what if I went into labour whilst I was on the underground?” Even if the hospital had agreed to store my own blood but I was not in the hospital grounds at the time I needed it, my ‘donation’ would not have made a difference to me.
I’ve never officially thanked the people whose blood not just saved me but has given me 4 years and counting to spend with my daughter. Whoever you are, THANK YOU!
You see, just as the doctors arrived in my delivery room that fateful day, they told me that my body temperature was plummeting and they needed to wrap me in an electric blanket to try to bring my body temperature up.
When I think of people’s body temperature dropping rapidly, the first image that pops into my head is that of some stranded in a snowy mountain somewhere. Somewhere like Canada. It never once crossed my mind that in London, that would ever be a scenario.
So you see, life is unpredictable, we cannot control every situation, especially when there are silly inconsiderate folks sharing our roads. Have you seen some London drivers?!
If you believe blood transfusions are important, please do donate blood today
It took 18 months before I got my first period back post-childbirth, so roughly 2 years after my daughter was born, I wanted to pay it forward and tried to donate. Apparently, from what I read then, if you have received a blood transfusion in the past, you cannot donate blood any more.
That’s why I’m using this post to encourage more people to consider donating blood.
This is a collaborative post with Smart Cells. You can find out more about what they do on their website by clicking here.
Sorry, there’s a really small error in the drawing of who accepts what blood drawing on the infographic. Please watch the Youtube video on this page to get the correct info.