“I’m super grateful for people who gave blood and made it possible for me to live…”
The phrase “saved by blood” was something I always associated with a great Easter sermon – that is, until a stranger’s blood literally saved my life 35 years ago. Gratefully, that person cared enough to be a donor, and doing so, saved two lives on that fateful day.
I was a 23-year old soon-to-be mother of a new baby girl, and unlike so many other expectant mothers, I loved being pregnant! I loved the feeling of life inside me as she squirmed and kicked and reminded me that she was coming. I loved making baby blankets and spending long hours oohing and aahing over the baby girl clothes in the discount store near our home. My husband and I talked often and excitedly about the day when she would finally join our little family.
One beautiful early June afternoon, I could feel the summer sun calling to me. Our two-year old son, Matt, was as thrilled as I was to be going on a long walk, and our hearts were light as we made our way toward the duck pond that we often frequented.
Matt tightly held the breadcrumb bag and chattered energetically as we walked along. Then the moment he could see the pond, he begged to get down. I lifted him out of the stroller, taking a mental picture of his radiant face as he enthusiastically bounded toward the ducks. “Duckie, duckie,” he called, as he went. From their reaction, I’m pretty sure that they were as happy about his visit as he was to be there.
After he had emptied his bread bag, I lifted him again to put him back in the stroller. It was then that I felt the muscles pull in a strange way across my swollen belly. It didn’t feel right. There wasn’t much I could do about it in that moment, except to slow my pace as I gingerly made my way back home. The stroller felt much heavier than it had before, and I knew I needed to be off my feet as soon as possible.
A few hours later, I found myself in an emergency room, losing blood so fast that even the medical staff seemed worried. I had a condition known as placenta previa, something that had taken the life of many an expectant mother through the years. Apparently, the combination of the long walk pushing a stroller, and lifting our little son in and out of it, had put extra pressure on the womb, and caused the bleeding to start. And it didn’t seem to be slowing or stopping.
One of the many worries in this equation was that our baby girl still needed another 10 weeks in the womb in order to survive. Our neonatologist was particularly scared, given that our daughter also had an open spine and would need surgery right after birth. Our obstetrician was worried – and we were terrified.
The next 24 hours passed like a bad dream. I was in and out of consciousness, vomiting until there was nothing left in my stomach. The lights seemed to burn at my eyes whenever I tried to open them, and the voices around me often seemed far away. In fact, there were times when I almost felt disconnected from my own body.
I do remember one very lucid moment when I awoke to see a unit of blood flowing into one arm, with an IV in the other. As my eyes fluttered open just then, no doubt reflecting the confusion I felt, Dr. Parker explained that a blood transfusion had been necessary to save my life, not to mention the life of our little girl.
Several units of blood and many hours later, I awoke to find my husband next to my bed still holding my hand. His eyes were blood shot and he looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. He smiled wanly at me as he said, “you’re finally back with us.” He told me that they thought the bleeding had nearly stopped, and that it looked like I was going to be okay.
That was the first miracle. The second came five weeks later, when four-and-a-half-pound Mandy was finally placed in our arms. She was premature, but her lungs were formed, and she was beautiful! She had a full head of dark hair and bright blue eyes that looked from one of us to the other.
In that moment, I smiled tiredly down at her, knowing that we had both been saved by blood. The seemingly small act of a stranger had produced great miracles that changed the course of our lives and our family’s history forever.
We’ll never be able to thank our anonymous hero, but if you are someone who cares enough to donate blood, just know that someone out there is thanking God tonight for you. You are a hero to somebody!
I’m super grateful for people who gave blood and made it possible for me to live to give birth twice more after that and be here to raise my children!
This blog story was written by DeAnna Murphy – American Red Cross co-blood program leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Waconia, MN, blood donor, author and Top 100 Global Coaching Leader. She is also the mother of three, and grandmother of four. She currently lives in the Minneapolis area.
Want to be someone’s hero? Schedule a blood donation today. Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.