Baby Donors~Donate Blood, Donate Life

Monday, October 22, 2012

While writing a little blurb up for the March of Dimes about our family and Alli's journey I reread her NICU discharge summary. 

Note to fellow Preemie families, don't reread your child's NICU discharge summary. 

Just don't.  

On another note, while scanning over the book (AKA discharge summary) I saw for the first time that Alli had 40, yes 40 blood and platelet transfusions in her first 2 months of life alone. 

So here's my PSA on donating blood and more specifically being a Baby Donor..... 

Nearly everyone knows their blood type (A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+ and AB-.), but did you know there is another group of letters that can make your blood donation even more important?  


Cytonmegalovirus, is a common flu-like virus that most people encounter at some point during their lifetime.  CMV comes from the same virus family as chickenpox, mononucleosis and herpes.  Most normally, it is harmless and most people have little realization that they've been exposed.  In fact, in the United States alone, between 50-85% of adults will contract CMV by the time they reach the age of 40. 

In extremely premature babies like Alli, blood and platelet transfusions are inevitable.  We were told on average babies like her receive around 10 transfusions.  Alli proved her rule breaking ways by receiving a grand total of 40 + transfusions.  

There are more extreme measures and care taken to pediatric donor blood in an effort to protect these already extremely sick and fragile babies.  Testing for CMV is just one of those measures taken.  In a healthy adult or child, carrying CMV in your blood rarely causes sickness or a disease.  However, due to being extremely premature and having a developing immune system, CMV could prove fatal for these precious babies who are already fighting for their lives.  Therefore, it's of the utmost importance that the blood products these babies receive are CMV Negative. 

We were extremely lucky that John's blood tested CMV negative, which with 50-85% of the population being a carrier, we were told to "not count on it."  Alli only had to receive 4 unknown donor transfusions during the time her Daddy's blood was taken and being scanned.  Although donor blood is extremely safe and studies suggest it's no different than family blood, we still drew so much solace in knowing her transfusions came from John....especially, when she was receiving so many.  I know John also took great pride in being able to do this one physical act for Alli, at a time when we couldn't even touch her.       

Donate blood, donate life. 

And if you feel led, ask them to specifically test for CMV.  There's a blood shortage in general so I can only imagine the chances that the available allotment is actually CMV-.     If you are in the East Tennessee/Knoxville area, The Medic can point you in the right direction.  If you are outside of our area, I would be MORE than happy to assist you in the search for your local Blood Center.    

Donating blood does save lives. 


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