To the Editor:
April is Accreta and Cesarean Awareness Month and I’m grateful to be alive to celebrate my survival story and host two blood drive events to help save the lives of more mothers. Most people have heard of a cesarean birth but few have ever heard of the life-threatening pregnancy complication called Placenta Accreta that is a potential risk of future cesarean births. Two organizations, Hope for Accreta Foundation and ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network), are coming together to educate those with risk factors for Accreta and to encourage people to donate blood. This gift of life could save mothers with Accreta and anyone else in need of a blood transfusion.
Three and half years ago I experienced one of the most dangerous pregnancy complications. I lost approximately 4 pints of blood after the birth of my son, almost half of the blood in my body. Placenta Accreta is a condition in which the placenta embeds into the uterus wall and grows through it, sometimes attaching to other organs. Placentas are supposed to just hover over the wall of the uterus and then detach after birth. But some have a mind of their own and decide to cause a whole lot of trouble -- life-threatening trouble. Life-threatening because it can cause catastrophic hemorrhaging putting the life of the mother and child at risk.
When Accreta is either diagnosed prior to birth or found surprisingly after birth, physicians and blood banks must be prepared. If the placenta will not detach they must do everything they can to prevent hemorrhaging and the mother’s death. Hospitals typically gather a large group of experts to handle the situation, usually performing an emergency hysterectomy, and blood donations must be available in case of massive blood loss and a blood transfusion is necessary.
Placenta Accreta now affects 1 in 333 pregnancies and the rates are increasing, according to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes the increase of Placenta Accreta seems to parallel the increasing cesarean delivery rate. This rise in Accreta cases puts great pressure on local blood banks and they must be ready to handle the increased demand for blood.
On Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 the Northern Virginia chapters of the Hope for Accreta Foundation and ICAN will co-host community blood drives in partnership with Inova Blood Donor Services. The drives will be held at the Inova Blood Donor Center in Sterling, Virginia on April 1 from 10-4 and American Horticultural Society’s River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia on April 2 from 10-3. Local mothers, blood recipients, and survivors of Placenta Accreta will share their birth stories, answer questions, offer support, and help educate men and women about the risks of uterine surgeries.
All donors and volunteers will be entered to win door prizes from generous donors and businesses including AuPairCare, Bathologie, Team Beachbody, DRP Belle Haven, Greenplicity, Jamberry, Lemongrass Spa, Stella & Dot, Soupergirl, Sugar Shack Donuts, Usborne, Wegmans, and Zoobooks. Both events are family friendly -- the Alexandria blood drive will feature a crafts table, hosted by Arts on the Horizon, for children to keep busy while parents donate blood. Additionally, diapers and baby items will be collected for nonprofits My Grandmother’s House and It Takes a Village, Baby to help provide health and happiness to mothers and babies in need.
The goal is to attract at least 60 donors at the blood drives. By donating just one pint of blood, donors have the potential to save up to three lives. Anyone who is in generally good health and meets the eligibility conditions can donate blood. The entire process takes about an hour, and all blood types are needed. Donors should bring a photo ID. To schedule an appointment to donate blood call 866-256-6372, or visit www.inovabloodsaves.org and use sponsor code: 8131. The events are free.
More details can be found at www.facebook.com/HopeforAccretaNorthernVirginia, www.facebook.com/events/528882323981558/ and www.facebook.com/events/451221828401301/
I’m a survivor of Placenta Accreta and postpartum hemorrhage and I’m alive today thanks to many generous blood donors. Most do not realize or understand that massive blood loss during and after childbirth is a possibility. However, we can be prepared, and we need the community’s help and generosity to ‘Give Local, Save Local’.