An Australian woman is coming forward more than two years after her traumatic birth to raise awareness for blood donation - and for a good reason.
It saved her life.
Two years ago, Sarah Parkes, now 34, underwent an extremely complicated cesarian section delivery and as a result, nearly died from blood loss. The high-risk c-section caused the mother-of-three's heart to stop three times, and the procedure to save her life required an unbelievable 128 bags of blood. In fact, it exhausted the hospital’s entire blood supply.
This sort of c-section complication is extremely rare, however not unheard of. During a c-section, an incision is made through the lower abdomen and scar tissue can build up underneath the incision as well as in the uterus - especially when a woman has a history of multiple c-sections. Parkes herself underwent two previous c-sections, and during her third pregnancy, the placenta attached to the scar tissue on her uterus and spread. Doctors took precautions, and because they were unable to detect whether or not it had grown and was endangering her and the baby, they opted to deliver at 34 weeks.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. Parkes recalls her terrifying delivery moments after the first incision was made.
“When I got cut open, they hit a major blood vessel and I started bleeding to death,” she said.
Her placenta began "pumping blood everywhere", but surgeons were unable to close her up because the placenta had not been removed. Fortunately, there was a vascular surgeon next door who was able to jump in and help save her life.
Shaken but still alive, Parkes spent a week in intensive care while her little girls waited outside, asking when she was going to wake up. Her experience has taught her the importance of donating blood, and by sharing her story, she hopes to bring awareness to the growing need.
According to Parkes - who has now become an advocate for blood donation - in Australia alone, one in three people will need blood during their lifetime, but only one in 30 currently gives blood. The World Health Organization states that about 112.5 million blood donations are collected worldwide each year - and more than half of these are collected in high-income countries like Australia, which are home to 19% of the world's population. A total of 74 countries collect over 90 per cent of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors.
“Our amazing donors can’t do it alone, and we need more people to make blood donation a regular, life-saving habit,” she said. “I need to help people. I want people to look at me and think about donating blood."