My story begins on September 19, 2012 when I had my beautiful son, Camden! The day of his birth and the weeks that followed were very difficult, but thanks to the generosity of blood donors and the talent of those who cared for me, I was able to go home and be with my family for Camden’s first Christmas. I’m so thankful to all of the blood donors who helped saved my life!
I first became ill near the end of my pregnancy. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and was told to get to the hospital right away to be induced. After starting magnesium, my condition got worse and it was determined I had HELLP Syndrome. I was put completely under and was prepped for an emergency C-section. When I came out of surgery they told my family I couldn't breathe on my own and I was put on a ventilator. I woke up six days later in the SICU at the University of Iowa hospital. My platelet count was very low and because of all the infection in my body I went into septic shock. At the same time, my liver and kidneys were failing and I couldn’t breathe on my own. I received several transfusions to increase my platelet count.
I improved after a couple of weeks in the SICU, but then my wound got infected so I had to have another emergency surgery and was given more blood. After that surgery, I developed pancreatitis, a condition that literally ate away at my insides. I was given blood transfusions frequently during this time.
My doctors were able to fix my first bleed quickly, but my second internal bleed was much more serious. While I slept in my hospital bed, my husband noticed a spot of blood on my bed sheet. Pulling the sheet back, he realized a more serious bleed was underway. I was bleeding internally from a major artery and since my incision hadn’t yet healed, I was bleeding into the bed. Doctors needed to fix the artery, but I had already lost so much blood that I received transfusions first so I could survive the procedure. This was by far the worst of my 87-day stay at the U of I.
After that day, I was given several blood transfusions. A week or so after that procedure another hole was found in my colon so I was taken back in for another emergency surgery. I was given more blood during this surgery. Finally, after several weeks I was finally getting better, however I spent another 30 days in the hospital. I was released on December 14, 2012, a week and a half before my son's first Christmas.
Without all the blood I received I would have died and I would not have been able to see my son grow up. I will always be grateful for the blood donors who helped save my life!
- Kelli Carlson