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"Plasma donations kept me conscious during the delivery of my baby"

Thursday 7th Jun 2018

1 in 5 women will need blood products at some point during their pregnancy. Here Shannon tells the story of when she was that woman: twice.

It started with a rash.

During her second pregnancy, Shannon visited her GP with a rash on her legs, so he ran some blood tests to find the cause. Lucky for her he did, just days later Shannon was diagnosed with a syndrome that results in low levels of the blood cells that prevent bleeding.

Cold season takes effect

Although she cruised through a few more weeks of her pregnancy, it was a common cold that started the next phase for Shannon.

“Likely not coincidentally, I got a cold from my 18 month-old boy, and it seemed that as my immune system attempted to fight this, it also ramped up the attack on my platelets, meaning that my weekly blood test showed dangerously low platelets,” explains Shannon.

Blood products to the rescue

She was immediately treated with IVIg, a life-saving treatment made from plasma donations.

“That was the first of countless IVIg infusions,” she said.

“Daily IVIg towards the end enabled me to be conscious for the delivery - this meant the world to me and my husband.”

Next time around

After that experience, it understandably took many years for Shannon and her partner to try for their third child.
“I desperately wanted this baby but knew that as I had not followed a text book prior, this could be a complex ride complete with significant risk,” she remembers.

This time her trouble began earlier in the pregnancy, and the IVIg transfusions alone weren’t having the same effect, so steroids were added.

Pregnancy with complications

“The safe range for delivery was harder to reach and the resolution of this episode took longer - these realities are particularly hard when you are hormonal, tired, recovering from surgery and parenting a new infant,” says Shannon.

“Worrying about a blood disorder is not what you picture when you begin a family in the perfect health.

Blood donors save the day

“I owe my life and that of two (of my three) children to the HOCA Mater Brisbane team and to thousands of blood donors who donate to the precious jars of IVIg.

“I was told that up to 1,000 donors are required for one jar of IVIg alone. The gratitude held by my husband and I is immense.

Stories like Shannon’s highlight how commonly blood donations are used to save the lives of mothers and new babies, so if you’re preparing for a birth, it’s a great time to donate blood. She gives birth, you give blood.