For many new mums, a blood transfusion can be a vital part of their recovery following childbirth. And, for a few, it can even mean the difference between life and death.
It’s World Blood Donor Day today – a global health awareness day organised by the World Health Organisation to focus people on the often-overlooked role blood transfusions during childbirth can play in helping to prevent maternal deaths.
And NHS Blood and Transplant services are asking people who haven’t donated blood before to sign up as donors, and help maintain blood stocks.
It’s estimated that 118,000 new donors are needed to donate between now and December to make sure there’s enough blood in the bank.
By donating blood, you could be helping new mums like Laura Zitver, 33 (above).
Laura’s son Owen, now 10 months, was born on the same day as Prince George last year: July 22nd. Laura’s labour lasted 14 hours and, during the course of it, she lost a huge amount of blood.
“After Owen was born, I was dizzy and light-headed,” says Laura. “But when the doctor told me I’d need a blood transfusion to start functioning properly, I was astounded. I just didn’t realise how common it was for women to need one following childbirth.”
Having been kept in hospital for observation, Laura received the blood transfusion 2 days after giving birth. “I noticed the benefits immediately,” she says.
“There was a sharp increase in my energy levels and, within a couple of days, I felt like I was ready to go home and start being a mum.
“I’m just so grateful that there was someone out there was willing to donate their blood.”
At the hospital where Laura gave birth, a letter went round asking if anyone who’d had a baby on the same day as the Duchess of Cambridge wanted to pose for a celebratory photo to help mark the Royal Birth. “Normally, I would have leapt at the chance!” says Laura. “The fact that I didn’t is a sign of just how ill I was feeling.
“Needing a transfusion myself has made me realise more than ever just how vital blood donation is. My experience has convinced my husband Arron to become a donor – even though he’s scared of needles!”
Do think about helping out other mums-to-be by becoming the blood donor. To register or simply to find out more about how it all works, call 0300 123 23 23 or visit the Give Blood website.