Michele S. • San Francisco, CA

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I am thankful to blood donors because...

Baby Out. Three years later I can still hear those words as if they were yesterday. They were quickly followed by a healthy wail - the sound I had been desperately hoping to hear from the moment I showed up at the hospital 41 days earlier. My water broke when I was pregnant at only 25 weeks (five and a half months) but I was kept in the hospital until my baby Oliver was born exactly two months premature. He blew holes in both lungs with that first wail and was whisked straight up into the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For the initial week of his life Oliver had a breathing tube down his throat along with 12 other wires and tubes attached to his small body. After his breathing tubes came out and his lungs healed he continued to battle with dips in his heart rate (bradycardias) and irregular breathing (apneas) - what we quickly learned to refer to in the NICU as A's and B's. As the weeks passed Oliver got bigger but he was not getting stronger and his As and Bs were not lessening. He was ready to go home in every other way so they started giving him breathing tests to assess his readiness to leave the hospital but he failed.

After the second failed test his doctor recommended a blood transfusion. He explained that sometimes new strong blood is what these little babies who are struggling need to get themselves over the last hurdle and home. I remember sitting by Oliver's side for the long hours it took for that large bag of blood to be pumped into his small body. I looked in wonder at that magical liquid flowing through the tube that had come from another person - a gift to my son. It truly was magic. The next day Oliver looked stronger. His cheeks had a rosy glow and most importantly he passed his sleep test and was discharged. Needless to say we had a lot to be thankful for. Today he is a thriving happy healthy 3-year-old. He has no memories of his early battles and we will never know the person who gave us that magical gift. But we will never forget.

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