Abbott on the Blood Donation Lows During the Pandemic

Originally published at abbott.com. Abbott ranked No. 4 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.

 

An estimated 3% of women who give birth need a life-saving blood transfusion following delivery. Based on the most recent birth data, that’s more than 100,000 moms each year. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, blood donations plummeted to historic lows. Thousands of blood drives were canceled in the U.S. in the first months of the pandemic, resulting in a loss of more than 130,000 donations. That’s especially true for Millennial and Gen Z donors. A study analyzing the world’s blood supply showed that out of 180 countries, 107 had insufficient blood to meet their need. Each blood donation can save up to three lives. Here’s the story of Deanna Cardone, a mother whose life was saved by blood transfusion:

I’m a planner. By 10 years old, I knew I wanted to wait to get married at 26 — after I had time to establish my career — and then have two kids by 35. I managed to follow this plan: Graduating from college, landing a good job, getting married at 25 (close!), earning getting my master’s and so on.

Struggling to have children was not part of the plan. How was I going to have two before I turned 35?

When we finally got pregnant, we went for an ultrasound. The technician peered at me with a strange look. Was something was wrong?

“Is there a heartbeat?” I asked.

There were two.

Our identical twins shared a placenta with separate amniotic sacs, making my pregnancy high risk. My water broke in the middle of the night at 30½ weeks. While small, Adam and Evan were born healthy on Nov. 13, 2019 —our anniversary! — at 3 pounds, 5 ounces and 3 pounds, 8 ounces, respectively.

They spent several weeks in the NICU, where we traveled to see them twice a day. My recovery was going well, the nurses commenting that I was bouncing back quickly.

Two weeks after giving birth, I woke up on Thanksgiving night bleeding. I immediately had flash backs of my water breaking. (Why do bad things always happen at 2 a.m.?) Large blood clots kept coming, one after another. Readying to go to the hospital, I passed out in the bathroom. I awoke to my husband splashing water on my face, and I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

The bleeding persisted.

A procedure to remove any remaining placenta didn’t work. Nothing did.

By this point, my blood levels were so low that I needed a blood transfusion. I have needle phobia, so I was nervous, but I started to feel better almost immediately afterward. Thankfully, at this point, the bleeding also stopped.

I’m so grateful that my blood type was available when and where I needed it and, of all the worries I had that day, concern about the safety of the blood supply was not among thanks to diagnostic advancements.

I’m here today because of a selfless blood donor.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and nobody plans on needing blood. That’s why I decided to overcome my needle phobia and donate blood for the first time last year on World Blood Donor Day, to give back what someone else gave to me: A second shot at life.