In the past, I was always good about giving blood a few times a year, but like many, in recent years it just seemed to keep getting in the way. I always knew it was needed but never really had to experience how important it was until recently.
My middle daughter Addie is 24, married and to everyone’s delight, pregnant. She was probably about eight weeks along, but we did not know it was an ectopic pregnancy.
The problem began on the best weekend we have had in a long time. We all went to the Smyrna Rotary Fish Fry, where I helped cook; it is always a wonderful time for our family.
The next day my parents, kids and grandkids came to our house for an amazing afternoon. While our daughter Addie was there, she began cramping and hurting more. Everyone assumed it was pregnancy cramps. Addie and her husband, Delton, went home so she could rest, and our night wound down with my wife, Rhonda, and I talking about what a fun weekend we had.
As we were getting ready for bed, Addie called and said her pain was getting worse. We told them to go to the emergency room, which they quickly did.
After they returned from the emergency room where they had an ultrasound exam, they told us the bad news. Addie’s pregnancy was ectopic and she had lost her baby. At that point, they said surgery would be required but it was not life or death at that time and they would set it up for early morning.
Fortunately, the emergency room personnel had called the surgeon and had the operating room scheduled. The doctors also ordered blood just in case it was needed. That move ended up saving her life.
While Rhonda, Delton, and I were in her room, her blood pressure started going lower and lower, and then suddenly alarms started to go off. Addie had ruptured internally and began bleeding internally very rapidly.
When that happens, the emergency room personnel do not waste time getting anyone out of the room. The doctors and nurses all just came in and jumped into action. The head nurse already had the blood there for surgery and was able to quickly put two units into Addie to keep her alive long enough for the surgeon to get there, and fortunately, he was already on the way.
Addie began to go in and out of consciousness. She was looking at us with fear and began to ask if she was going to live, if she was going to make it.
At the point when you see your child dying in front of you, the emotion is beyond explanation, but the emergency room nurses were amazing.
Addie’s blood type is A-Positive, and then I noticed they had to switch to O. Apparently, they were out of A-Positive blood.
Fortunately, the surgeon arrived, and they got Addie back to the operating room immediately. I was not aware of the amount of blood that can be lost from an ectopic pregnancy.
The surgeon had to cut a long incision and had to literally scoop blood out with his hands to see where she was bleeding. The surgery, thank God, was successful and Addie is on the road to a full recovery.
After they gave the good news that Addie survived, and after our emotions began to settle down, I began to reflect on what had just happened.
My first thoughts were of those amazing nurses who gave her a chance by keeping her alive, then the surgeons who did the surgery. I remembered seeing them switch her to O-type blood and it dawned on me they must have been out of the A-Positive (which is MY blood type).
I began to feel some guilt for not donating lately. I realized that someone out there had taken the time to give their blood and it had just saved my daughter’s life. Had I given blood, maybe they would have had more A-Positive.
Addie literally almost died right in front of us. Her doctor said she was right on the edge of death and was knocking on Heaven’s door.
Addie told me later that she kept wanting to go to sleep, but she knew if she did, she would never wake up again, so she fought to stay awake.
It was really scary and emotional, but now it is time to make something good out of it.
It took four units of blood to keep Addie alive. I owe it to those who gave blood to repay their donation. I decided I was going to start getting more involved in blood donation, and I hope to pay it forward.
You see, blood is life, and I pray no one ever needs a transfusion, but if they do, I pray there is plenty.
A blood drive in honor of Addie Raborn Gortney will be held Thursday, Nov. 21 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Smyrna Event Center, 100 Sam Ridley Parkway. To schedule an appointment, go to RedCrossBlood.org (sponsor code: addiesmyrna) or call 1-800-RED CROSS.