World Blood Donor Week Promotes Blood Donations That Save Mothers´ Lives

World Blood Donor Week was launched on Monday 9 June by the Minister of Health, Seniors & the Environment. Please see below for the speeches at the events.

The Hon. Jeanne Atherden, JP MP, Minister of Health, Seniors & the Environment

I am very pleased to be here today to launch World Blood Donor Week for Bermuda. This year’s theme is “Give Blood for those who give life, safe blood for saving mothers”.

When people think of donating blood for others, they often think about accidents and surgeries. The range of people who benefit from blood transfusions also includes cancer patients and sickle cell patients. But mothers and babies can also need blood.

Bermuda has excellent pre-natal care, and thankfully it is extremely rare for a mother to die during birth here in Bermuda. This is thanks to superb clinical teams at the hospital and the availability of blood donations.

It is important to stress that complications in labour are rare, but they do happen. This can happen in emergency situation during labour, if there is a haemorrhage. It can be offered during pregnancy if a mother is found to be severely anaemic. It is also needed sometimes during a miscarriage. In all cases it can save lives and prevent harm to the health of mother or baby, and sometimes both.

I understand from the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre that there was a very positive response to a recent emergency call for blood. This shows the generosity and care that is out there in Bermuda. But outside emergency calls it can be very hard to gain new donors who regularly donate.

It takes just 30 minutes to donate, and there are special parking bays to try and make the trip to the hospital as fast as possible. By shining a light on the many different people who benefit from the kind donation of blood we hope to encourage more members of the community to step up.

Please visit the lobby at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where there will be a poster display with more information. If you have questions, or want to make an appointment to donate call 236-5067, or email blood.donor@bhb.bm. I will now invite the Clinical Director of Maternity, Christine Virgil, to speak.

Clinical Director of Maternity, Christine Virgil,

Thank you, Minister Atherden. As Clinical Director of Maternity, I would like to thank Bermuda’s blood donors.

There are between 600 and 700 births in Bermuda every year. Although most births are safe, a small number can have complications. And despite excellent on-island pre-natal care, it is not always possible to know in advance when there will be complications. When complications arise it can happen unexpectedly and is often very scary.

We are very fortunate in Bermuda to have regular donors who ensure blood is there when it is needed. But we need more and I hope people are inspired to donate if they know that their donations help save the lives of mothers and their babies in Bermuda.

In 2013, 40 units of donated blood were needed by women in Maternity. This blood was needed by eleven women. This is about 1.8% of the total number of patients transfused at BHB. It sounds a small number, but these were 11 precious and, over many years this translates into hundreds of mothers whose lives have been impacted by the generosity of blood donors in Bermuda.

So on behalf of all Bermuda’s mothers today and in the future, please make your appointment to donate. Your donations helps keep our mothers safe. I would now like to invite three mums to speak, two of whom benefited from blood donation and one who is a regular blood donor.

Nicole Brockington, a mother who received a blood transfusion:

My name is Nicole Brockington and I stand before you today to proudly announce that I AM SUCCESSFUL RECIPIENT OF A blood transfusion.

Now, I must admit – I´ve always been aware of what a blood transfusion was but I never understood the importance of giving blood because honestly I never came across anyone who needed one or even took the time out to even donate. Until March 11, 2014 after naturally giving birth to a healthy little 7lb beautiful baby girl, I found myself laying in my hospital bed feeling unsteady, immobile, and feeble. I watched my newborn daughter yearn for her mother´s unconditional love that I was too powerless to provide because of my weak state of health, even breast feeding was a task. This confused me because I had given birth 12 years ago and was perfectly fine right after – until my doctor came in and told me that the reason I was feeling like this was due to excessive blood loss during delivery and I would need a blood transfusion to regain a natural bill of health. At first I was nervous – due to my lack of knowledge and because my whole life I had been fairly healthy – never receiving any surgeries/treatments, but as I gazed into my daughters bright eyes I could feel her need for my affection and immediately made the decision to move forward with the process.

On March 12, 2014 I became the successful recipient of a blood transfusion. [Immediate]ly after I felt rejuvenated. I know I had just given birth but at this point I REALLY FELT LIKE I CAN DO kartwheels. I had experienced a reinvigorated force that allowed me to jump right back into motherhood and love my newborn in the way that she deserved. This was all possible because someone took the time out of their day to donate blood to save another persons life, whom they would never meet. From the inmost part of me, I would like to say thank you for your courage and your kind heart and thank you to all the donors out there. Without people like you – I, for one, don´t know how I would´ve survived. You saved my life and possibly someone else´s. Therefore, I would like to urge everyone out there to donate blood if you can. Save a life! It doesn´t take long and to know that you played a part in making someone better is an exhilarating feeling. A BLOOD DONOR TODAY CAN BE A RECIPIENT OF TOMORROW. With that said, “I implore you to save a life”!

Laura Petronzi, a mother who received a blood transfusion:

My name is Laura Petronzi and I would like to ask you to please donate. I needed blood on the most important evening of my life; the night my beautiful son was born. Shortly after his birth, the mood went from sheer joy to that of fear for my health and wellbeing. Besides needing two units of blood, my doctors also advised that I required a unit of platelets. I am grateful for the generous people in our community who volunteer their time to donate blood.

I am also happy to say that our family still has a ´positive´ account at the blood bank. My wonderful husband is a regular donor and I made my first blood donation in the appeal for blood after 9/11. I see blood donation as a really simple and vital way to give back to our community. I had heard about platelet donation in the past and always assumed platelets were only needed in extremely rare medical cases. I now know that is not the case! You never know when you or someone you know will need a blood transfusion.

Amanda Darrell, a mother who is a blood donor:
Giving birth to a healthy little girl has truly provided me a personal perspective of the miracle of life. It is precious and fragile, requiring a variety of support from so many sources to meet its needs, whether social, emotional or physical. Blood donation was always a priority for me, beginning with my first donation at 17 years old. At that time, I viewed it as a simple way to help someone in need. Now I see it as a recurring opportunity to sustain the life of another’s child as important to that parent as that of my daughter to me. Only a mother can bring a child into the world, but every person has the potential to save someone through the gift of blood.

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