Donated blood saved my life

By Nicole Daughhetee
Courier Staff

Both of my daughters were born via C-section. After more than 24 hours of labor (I was determined to have Emerson naturally), she was in distress, and I had to have an emergency C-section to protect her life.

After that birthing experience, I opted to have a scheduled C-section with Ella because I didn’t want to risk putting her through the same complications and trauma Emerson had to endure only moments before she made her grand entrance into the world.

Ella was born on July 11, 2005. Everything about the C-section was normal and without complication. I spent two nights in the hospital with Ella and was discharged with a clean bill of health.

Three weeks later I experienced the first of what would be three post-partum hemorrhages.

I started bleeding on a Friday afternoon, but after about 30 minutes, it stopped. The following Monday, it started again without ceasing. On that day, I lost so much blood that I fainted and started seizing before paramedics arrived. After being transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital, the bleeding slowed down and eventually stopped.

After being kept overnight for observation, I was discharged the next day with the assurance I was perfectly fine and would continue to move forward in a healthy direction. The blood loss was significant enough that my doctor suggested having a blood transfusion. Severe anemia is difficult enough, but with the demands of a new baby, feeling like a zombie was difficult.

My mom volunteered to donate blood for me because she is a match, but I opted to forego the blood transfusion at that time.

Two weeks later, I hemorrhaged again and found myself being transported by EMS to the GMH emergency room. The tiny strides I made in rebuilding my hemoglobin were spent, and although I was discharged with the assurance of good health, I certainly felt like a huge portion of my life force had been drained from my body.

Exactly one week to the day later, I awoke at 3 a.m. from what I thought was a horrible dream. My clothes and my bedding were drenched in sweat — at least that was my initial thought. When I pulled back my covers to stand up, I noticed dark stains on my white linens and realized that I was drenched not in sweat but in my own blood.

This trip to the ER had all the lights and siren fanfare. Something was different this time. When we got to the ER, I was whisked up to the obstetrics floor. By the time my doctor got there, blood was literally pouring off the gurney on which I laid.

I was rushed to the operating room. The internal incision binding up the delivery point in my uterus had been necrotizing over the prior six weeks until it finally ruptured and had to be removed piecemeal.
At its lowest point, my hemoglobin was a documented 6.8 after the hemorrhages and rupture. Operating room notes show that my pulse slowed to 40 beats per minute, and I started to “crash” on the table.
What saved my life and helped return my body to a functional homeostasis? Blood. In the operating room I received five units of blood and four units of fresh, frozen plasma. Without that blood I would have died, because there wasn’t enough of my own left to sustain me.

To this day I consider myself beyond lucky. Blessed, albeit a more accurate word, still seems inadequate. I was in a state of emergency and I needed blood, a healthy amount of blood, immediately. Time was of the essence, and there was not a moment to spare if I was going to survive.

Blood was available at the ready because people took the time to donate. Complete strangers, through completely selfless acts, were instrumental in saving my life.

Blood donors save lives every day, and every time I see a “Blood Drive” announcement or see a collection vehicle, I cannot help but look back on my experience and express gratitude for all the people who donate the gift of life.