January is National Blood Donor Month. Throughout this month, the American Red Cross is celebrating the volunteer blood donors who generously dedicate hours to giving blood to help save the lives of someone whom they will never meet — someone like Erin Tremblay.
In early April, 2013 Erin and her husband Derek were happily awaiting the birth of their second child when they received a call from Erin’s obstetrician instructing her to go to the hospital. Routine blood work ordered by the doctor had come back showing elevated liver enzymes that concerned her.
The pregnancy had been an uncomfortable one for Erin and she was relieved that her due date was near. In early April, she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.
But just half an hour after the baby was born Erin lost consciousness; a severe drop in blood pressure indicated excessive bleeding and she was sent into emergency surgery. She had a pregnancy-related illness that had progressed to a severe and uncommon condition that kept her blood from clotting. The medical team at her local hospital was able to stabilize her over the next 24 hours. After that, the decision was made to transfer her to the Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital where she spent the next seven days. In total, Erin required seven surgeries and received 50 units of blood to help save her life. Blood from volunteer Red Cross donors who cared enough to take precious time out of their schedules to help a total stranger.
It is not by chance that National Blood Donor Month falls in January. Winter can be among the most difficult times of year for blood donation, but people still need blood transfusions; individuals receiving cancer therapy or treatment for rare blood disorders don’t have the luxury of postponing their transfusions until warm weather returns. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and each donation can help save up to three lives.
The Tremblays look back on that event from a much happier place with their new baby Bridget and her big brother James. “Derek and I are so grateful to the generous donors whose blood helped me in my time of need,” Erin says. “We want to encourage everyone reading this to please give blood, or continue giving blood; you never know when it may help save the life of someone you love.”
During the month of January – and every month of the year – join the heroes who roll up their sleeves on a regular basis to help someone in need.
Mary Brant is Communications Manager at American Red Cross Blood Services for the Northern New England Region.