World Blood Donor Day on June 14th is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the life-saving nature of blood and blood products. This year’s theme, “Safe blood for saving mothers,” has special meaning for Gina Walker, 33, a mother of three.
From the very beginning of her third pregnancy, Gina had complications. At her first appointment, her doctor could not detect the baby’s heartbeat and said that she would most likely suffer a miscarriage. Miraculously, weeks later, the doctor discovered the baby was alive and healthy, but Gina’s doctor gave her some frightening news: Due to a rare condition, Gina's own health could be at risk during the delivery process.
To help prepare for the delivery and monitor Gina and her baby's care, she was transitioned to a large hospital with access to a blood bank. The team of doctors explained that Gina would need to undergo a cesarean section (C-section), after which she would need a hysterectomy to help control the bleeding that it was anticipated she would experience.
A healthy Addison Grace Walker was born on February 15, 2012, and whisked off to the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) to receive assistance with her breathing. But as suspected, it was a different story for Gina. During the planned hysterectomy, doctors spent nine hours fighting for Gina’s life, giving her more than 500 units of blood and blood products.
“I started to worry when I noticed cooler after cooler of blood pass by with my wife’s name on each container,” said Gina's husband, Dustin.
Gina was kept in a medically induced coma for a week and the doctors brought her into surgery two more times to help repair the damage to her bladder, abdominal wall and pelvis, and then to help stop the bleeding.
For Gina, World Blood Donor Day is a reminder that she and her family had a happy ending. "I hope that by hearing my story, people will be inspired to take action. I am alive to see my children grow up because someone gave blood,” said Gina.
Blood transfusions, such as the ones that Gina received, help to save millions of lives every year. In fact, approximately every two seconds, someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion.
Abbott's continuous improvements to blood screening technologies for more than 40 years underscore the company's commitment to ensuring the safety of the world's blood supply. To encourage people to donate blood, Abbott has teamed up with various non-profit organizations, including Club 25 International and Music Saves Lives®.
Club 25 International is a youth-oriented global organization promoting the donation of blood 25 times to save 25 lives, with many club members pledging to meet that commitment before they turn 25 years old. Music Saves Lives is dedicated to securing a consistent blood supply by encouraging young adults to become lifelong donors with music and entertainment as motivators.
To learn more about blood donation and how you can help, please visit www.club25pledge.org and www.musicsaveslives.org.
To learn about the non-profit that Gina and Dustin Walker founded to raise awareness about life-threatening conditions that impact both the mother and fetus, please visit: www.hopeforaccreta.org.