Donated Blood Saves a Young Mother’s Life

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January 24, 2014

Mother of 6 Sponsors a Blood Drive to Give Back for the Blood She Received

By Emmie Taylor, MS

Communications Intern

As dozens of UMMC staff and visitors take time from their day on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 28 and 29, for the next scheduled blood drive, they can look to the drive earlier this month that was sponsored by a very grateful patient.

Like many expectant mothers, Brandy Firth, of Hagerstown was nervous when she arrived to deliver her sixth child at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Although Brandy had five older children, she knew that this delivery was going to be much different than the others – the risk of complication was high, and there were already units of blood on standby for when she would need them.

Earlier in her pregnancy, Brandy had been diagnosed with placenta previa and then also placenta increta, in which the placenta attached deeply and firmly into the lower part of the uterus and into the uterine muscle wall. This was a scary diagnosis for Brandy and her husband, John, as the risk for massive blood loss during delivery was very high. Brandy’s physician referred her to UMMC, where she and her baby went under the care of  Kristin Atkins, MD. and Mehmet Turan, MD. Dr. Atkins, who specializes in high risk pregnancies, worked with Dr. Turan, a fellow in Obstetrics and Gynecology, to ensure that both mother and baby were given the best possible treatment.

On Oct. 3, 2013, Brandy delivered a healthy baby boy, William, via cesarean section at 36 weeks. William had no complications and was able to spend his first days of life at his mother’s side, a relief for his parents. The rest of Brandy’s surgery went as expected – it was a complicated procedure and Brandy lost a lot of blood. She ultimately required 13 units from the UMMC blood bank, which must obtain blood products from nationally regulated blood suppliers – primarily the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross, in turn, relies on blood donors all over the country to keep hospitals stocked with much-needed human blood.

Earlier this month on Jan. 10, Brandy, fully recovered, returned with her family to UMMC to sponsor an American Red Cross blood drive, remembering with gratitude donors who helped to save her life. She organized the drive in coordination with the Hope for Accreta Foundation, (placenta increta is a more severe form of placenta accreta) and made sure that drives were held both in her hometown of Hagerstown, as well as at UMMC.

When asked why she wanted to come back to Baltimore to sponsor a blood drive, Brandy said, “Because my heart is here.”

Her husband, John, (below, with a Red Cross phlebotomist) agreed and decided to donate while at UMMC.

John.Crop.2014-01-10 17.09.48

Today, Brandy is extremely thankful for the doctors, nurses and other staff who cared for her and baby William, and especially for the American Red Cross and people of all walks of life who donate their own blood. Donation is the only source for blood to be transfused into human patients. US law does not allow transfusion of blood from paid donors. Organizations or companies that pay people to donate blood can use that blood only for research, not for patient care.

Brandy hopes to raise awareness of the need for donation to the American Red Cross. She has daily reminders in each of her six children, but she says, “You go through every day life never imagining that you’d need blood. And then one day you do, and you realize how important it is.”

Make an appointment for UMMC’s next blood drive on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Gudelsky lobby of the Medical Center, just inside the entrance at the corner of Lombard and Greene streets.  

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jamie DeVriend January 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Thank you for sharing Brandy’s story! People don’t seem to really understand how important donating blood is. They know, but they don’t really internalize it until they experience it for themselves. I’m glad her story had a happy ending, but it did because people out there gave of themselves for an hour each time.

2 rev. sandra firth January 28, 2014 at 6:36 am

As a chaplain and registered nurse, I know blood is a life gift. Most people do not realize that giving one unit of blood could mean a person lives or has a healthy recovery. I thank God for the life of my daughter-in-law and for the many people who donated blood (life) for her recovery. The article is beautiful.
-A Grateful Grandmother

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